Preparations are underway to house and protect the homeless in Missoula as the winter approaches.

At the Missoula City Council Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, the members heard input from representatives of the Poverello Center, Housing and Community Development, Missoula’s 10 year Plan to end Homelessness and the Salvation Army about their preparations for the upcoming cold weather months.

Executive Director of the Poverello Center, Amy Allison Thompson described the new policies going into the winter.

“We, of course can only sleep 175 people,” said Thompson. “So, what we now have in place is that the Salvation Army has agreed to partner with us and provide their space for us when we reach over that 175 number. We’ll be sleeping people in overflow at the Salvation Army, and that will be staffed by the Poverello Center. That begins November 1st and continues until March 31st.”

Thompson said once the 175 limit has been reached, transportation will be available to shuttle the overflow to the Salvation Army and then return them to the Poverello Center in time for the morning meal.

Captain Josh Boyd with the Salvation Army was gratified that the Poverello Center would be taking the lead and determining who would be sent to his Salvation Army warming center.

“The Poverello Center is going to be leading the effort,” said Boyd. “They’re going to be able to determine folks that have different kinds of needs. For instance, everyone sleeping at the Salvation Army will be on a mat on the floor, and last year we had some individuals who really weren’t able to sleep on a mat, so we made accommodations as best we could at the time, but this will be even better because they’ll be able to have a space at the Poverello Center that will better accommodate their needs.”

Thompson also revealed that the Poverello Center has revised their intake rules to make them more accommodating.

“We are really shifting to a best practice model that is a behavior-based policy,” she said. “That means we want people to come as they are. In the past what we would do was to turn people away if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but now our policy as of November 1st will be to support folks as they are as long as their behavior is OK.”

Thompson said that during the winter once the 175 limit has been reached, transportation will be available to shuttle the overflow to the Salvation Army and then return them to the Poverello Center in time for the morning meal.