On a cold, windy Wednesday afternoon, members of the media gathered to see the new TSOS (Temporary Safe Outdoor Space) about 200 yards back from the busy Highway 93 South near the Bitterroot River.

Speaking to reporters were Susan Hay Patrick and Eric Legvold of the Missoula County United Way and Jim Hicks from the Hope Rescue Mission.

County road crews graded out a road along with flat, level spaces for the 40 four-person tents attached to raised platforms.

Legvold outlined the layout of the TSOS.

“There'll be 20 tents on 20 platforms,” said Legvold. “They are four-person tents, which will house two people maximum. We will have capacity for approximately 40 community members to reside here. We will have three service tents that will be basically for the service workers who will be providing 24/7 services as well as a medical emergency tent and a mess tent and then also an emergency heat tent.”

Hicks said the shelter is primarily to house those who had been camped near the Reserve Street Bridge, since that camp has been declared to be illegal.

“We have targeted Reserve Street because of the large encampment that's there,” said Hicks. “They have been surveyed, and the survey started quite a while back. Would they go? Where would they go to? What would that look like for them? So at this point, I don't think we're going to have to recruit anybody other than going through the vetting process to get them here and having them sign the rights and responsibilities. We're targeting Reserve Street first, and then we'll go from there.”

Hicks said the rights and responsibility forms that each resident must sign are still being prepared, but he provided some broad principles.

“When they exit the property or come back on, they will review these rights and responsibilities,” he said. “For example, taking care of their own trash, cleaning up, some of the normal chores that we all learned when we were younger. People don't do what you expect. They do what you inspect, and so we’re just helping them with some of those basic life skills, giving them the tools to do that.”

Legvold asked for the patience and cooperation of Missoula residents to make the temporary shelter a success.

“We are responding to a global pandemic,” he said. “We are responding to an emergency need. And what we can do is provide that safe, secure, healthy living situation. I ask the community to approach this with some compassion and some understanding because the Reserve Street camp is currently a health hazard to our community as a whole. It is illegal, and I think that this would be the best opportunity.”

The TSOS is far back from the highway and berms have been created to shield it from view.

Hicks said there will be no children allowed at the camp, which they hope to have open in early December.

 

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