With the bitter cold snap and wind chill temperatures reaching well below zero, the residents of the TSOS (Temporary Safe Outdoor Space) shelter just off Highway 93 were offered indoor shelter, but have refused.

CEO of Missoula’s United Way Susan Hay Patrick explains.

“Watching the weather forecast and knowing it was going to be so brutally cold, our first thought was ‘how can we move people into indoor shelter during this cold snap’,” said Hay Patrick. “We made arrangements with the Johnson Street emergency shelter for most of the people. There are about 26 people at the TSOS now, and we made arrangements for almost all of them to move to the emergency shelter and then the balance to go into a local motel.”

Patrick explained why the residents of the camp decided to stay in the tent camp.

“When we presented this option to the residents of the encampment, they decided universally that they would prefer to remain at the TSOS,” she said. “The general sentiment seemed to be that they felt safe and secure there, and for whatever reason, were unwilling to go into congregate shelter.”

Hay Patrick described the conditions at the camp.

“The tents are heated with safe heating elements, but they’re still just tents,” she said. “There is a Quonset hut that is heated 24/7. We at the United Way are providing hot meals through the weekend so that people can fortify themselves against the cold, in addition to the food that we have available through the food bank, but we just thought we needed to do more to keep people strong during this very brutal cold.”

Hay Patrick provided contact information for people who wish to donate to help keep the residents warm and fed during the cold snap.

“To donate goods or gas cards, they can call Ashley Corbally, who is the site manager, at 406-396-3653,” she said. “If they want to donate money, because it's expensive to provide staffing and security which are so key to the success of the camp, they can donate at Hope Rescue Mission.org or to Missoula United Way.org.

Gas cards are necessary to keep the generators running 24/7.

Hay Patrick specifically asked the public not to just drop off donations at the TSOS camp itself, but to donate through the contacts listed.


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