Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula Urban Camping Working Group held its third organizational meeting on Wednesday afternoon at the Stockman Bank Conference Center on Brooks Street, with over 20 members present, along with several individuals wanting to provide public comment.

I spoke with Missoula Police Chief Mike Colyer, who has attended each session. He said homelessness is a multifaceted problem that is bigger than any single city or county department can handle.

Urban Camping Working Group Takes Public Comment

“My department, or any department, by themselves in the city can’t handle this, and I would argue that the city government by itself probably couldn't handle it,” began Chief Colyer. “So it's a community-wide or even a higher level discussion, but this is where we start. We get lots of good perspectives from within the city, from within the community of people with all kinds of different experiences, and so we start generating unique ideas about how we can try to chip away at this problem.”

Ward 5 Missoula City Councilor Bob Campbell said previous meetings have laid a good foundation, and its time for more specific ideas on mitigating the issue of homelessness in Missoula.

City Councilor Campbell said the Group is now Dealing with Specifics

“I think we're getting to a point now where we're going to start getting specifics about what we'd like to see provided for shelter, shelter capacity, and particularly accountability,” said Campbell. “I mean accountability from us as elected officials, accountability from the community at large; the nonprofit providers; the folks at the Poverello Center and the Hope Rescue Mission, who have been partners with the city for such a long period of time. We're looking to sustain those things that work and build upon them.”

Read More: Officials Address the Issue of Urban Camping in Missoula

Ward 6 City Councilor Sandra Vasecka said she is 'Cautiously Optimistic'

Ward 6 City Councilor Sandra Vasecka said the group has been taking comments from the public at all of their meetings. 

“We do have a lot of public input today because it's the public that are the ones that are very concerned about it as well as I am,” said Vasecka. “There are some interesting ideas all throughout the county and all throughout the nation, and there are interesting ideas all throughout this urban camping working group. I don't really have a solid answer for you. I'm hopeful. As my husband says, ‘I'm cautiously optimistic’.”


The first Urban Camping Working Group met in February at the Missoula Elections Center.

Inside Look at the New TSOS Shelters

The Temporary Safe Outdoor Space new hard-sided shelter facility officially opened on Thursday, January 5. The TSOS is just off West Broadway near the new Trinity affordable housing complex.

Gallery Credit: Nick Chrestenson

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