Winter weather has more folks using Kalispell homeless shelter - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Winter weather has more folks using Kalispell homeless shelter

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KALISPELL - The snow has continued to fall across the Flathead Valley and that means homeless people are searching for shelter.

The Samaritan House is one of the shelters in the Flathead Valley that provides a place to sleep and food for their occupants.

The house has been at full capacity for a few weeks and Director Chris Krager says they are doing everything they can to accommodate everyone in need with the cold front coming in this weekend. 

“We try to flex as much as we can. We do have some roll-away beds, like the fold out beds you see at hotels and we try to move some of those in and try to fit everybody in. It’s our goal because the weather is getting colder to try not to turn anybody away,” said Krager.

The snow has been coming in large amounts and this weekend the temperatures are supposed to dip into the single digits.

According to the National Weather Service, if it is ten degrees or below it could take 30 minutes or less for frostbite to occur, and for those who are sleeping outside it could even be fatal. 

Already, earlier this year, Tim Lloyd, a 61-year-old man living on the streets of Missoula, passed away in the middle of the night and temperatures were not nearly as cold as they are now.

Krager says that is the harsh reality of homelessness in Montana and is still clearly an issue that needs to be addressed.

“The nature of homelessness in Montana is at some point it’s too cold and it can be fatal. So, we’re trying to do everything we can to let people know to come on in and stay warm,” said Krager.

Krager added that programs such as the US Department of Housing and Urban Development have tried to end homelessness by a certain date, but he feels that is unrealistic and we need to take a different, more effective approach.

“We’ve sort of set our goal to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. So, collaborating with other organizations and trying to be more efficient at what we’re doing. We’re trying to create a way to address homelessness whenever it arises,” said Krager. 

The Samaritan House continues to do everything they can to create more space to get as many people off the streets and back on their feet. The Samaritan House is funded mainly through donations and appreciates any donation no matter how big or small.

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