Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - With all the discussion about homelessness or houselessness as many prefer, several nonprofit organizations met for a public discussion about one solution to the issue on Wednesday evening at Imagine Nation Brewing Company; permanent supportive housing.

Facilitating the discussion was mayoral candidate and Homeward Executive Director Andrea Davis, who introduced the topic to an overflow crowd.

“Houselessness,” began Davis. “This is an issue that is incredibly complicated. It's incredibly challenging. Missoula is not alone in the situation that we are facing here. There are a lot of emotions and there are a lot of opinions established around this, and what I want to say tonight is that we have these experts in the room that are willing to share with us their perspective on this particular solution. And this particular solution is permanent supportive housing.”

Davis said the meeting on Wednesday night was not just a discussion, but also a fund-raising event.

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“We are here tonight to learn about permanent supportive housing as one of the best models in the country to permanently solve houselessness,” she said. “The other thing that we are doing tonight is we are raising money because we are opening 30 new homes in the model of permanent supportive housing just right down the street for folks that have been chronically homeless in our community.”

Miranda Sanderson, Tenancy Support Specialist with the Partnership Health Center, referenced the Community Care Team and its role in what is being called Blue Heron Place.

“Specifically I'm on the Community Care Team, which also does outreach with people who are in-house,” began Sanderson. “You have housing support, and also a nurse on our team who provides medical support to those who are living unhoused. Our team will also be there on-site at Blue Heron Place. So we will be the supportive service staff on site providing a range of different services to folks that will be transitioning into housing.”

Sanderson said one of the challenges of transitioning from living on the street to being housed is the temptation for houseless friends to live there as well.

“It's got to be very difficult living on the street all these years, you get an apartment, and then your friend says, ‘Can I come stay with you? I need a place to stay’, and you have to say ‘no’, and quite frankly, we're the reason that they get to say no. We're not putting the pressure on these folks to say you can't stay with me. It's the rules by which the property is run, and it is also a best practice. It’s not to say that the principal’s friends will be able to come and visit. It's just in a controlled manner.”

Also on the panel were Skye McGinty, Executive Director of All Nations Health Center, Sam Oliver, Executive Director of the Missoula Housing Authority, and Jill Bonny, Executive Director of the Poverello Center, which is directly across the street from Imagine Nation Brewing Company on West Broadway.

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