Missoula Official on Homeless Situation After Shelter Closes
The City of Missoula announced on Thursday that the Johnson Street Emergency Winter Shelter will officially close on April 18.
KGVO reached out to Emily Armstrong, Houseless Initiative Specialist with the city on what options will be available to the nearly 150 people who will be displaced when the shelter closes.
“That's the plan is that we'll try to direct folks to other resources as best we can, whether that's a different shelter site or accessing the Coordinated Entry System or helping problem-solve to find other housing solutions and utilize some of the other resources in the community to find some sort of other stable option,” began Armstrong.
Armstrong named the various entities that will be available to those experiencing ‘houselessness’.
“They can access the Poverello Center main shelter,” she said. “They can also access the Authorized Camping sites for folks who want to camp in a safe space. There's also always the opportunity to call 2-1-1 just to get connected to the Missoula Coordinated Entry System and or get connected to other resources in the community where two 2-1-1 is kind of our resource hub. And then there are population specific shelters so Mountain Home Montana, the Family Housing Center and Meadowlark.”
Armstrong said there is also a challenge of effectively communicating with homeless persons to let them know what resources are available.
“At least for now, we're trying to communicate really well internally so that staff across sites and organizations is aware,” she said. “Then we're starting to try to create some sort of basic external communication tools when someone walks up to a site so they have an idea of what might be open and what might not.”
Armstrong addressed the very real possibility that homeless persons will simply run out of options for safe places to stay in Missoula.
“I will say many of them are already full or close to full are kind of opening sites on a rotating basis,” she said. “So, you know, we are limited in our options. But with that we'll do the best we can. We do have a lot of outreach teams and staff who are dedicated to working with folks who may not be able to get a spot and what are the sites to really try to find other solutions either within or, or outside Missoula so that we can help as many folks as possible.”
City and County funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) as well as funding from the Human Resource Council, helped to pay for this year’s Emergency Winter Shelter Operations.