Poverello Center faces occupancy crisis - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Poverello Center faces occupancy crisis

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MISSOULA - Missoula's Poverello Center might have to statt sending people back into the cold for the first time in its history.

Night after night of record occupancy in this cold snap has pushed the center to its limits and now it needs the community's  help.Some 205 people slept at the Poverello on Monday night, on mats, on blankets and on the floor -- but it's becoming too much.

The Poverello's leadership is putting a plan in place to cap the sleeping capacity at 190 people a night for the first time in its history, knowing that could have dire consequences.

"Temperatures are cold right now. It's deadly to stay outside so it's concerning that if we set a cap that really puts people's lives in danger," Poverello Center Executive Director Amy Allison Thompson said.

The center is running out of toilet paper, blankets and towels. Some are sleeping on the cement floor without mats or blankets for comfort. The 25% increase in occupancy is concerning to the Poverello leadership who believe this cannot be the only answer to the homeless problem.

"What happens with folks who are not able to stay here if we implement a cap -- when we implement a camp in the next week or so? The community needs to come together to figure out what do to here because the Poverello can't be the solution," Allison Thompson: said.

The cold is the biggest reason people are seeking shelter right now, but Allison Thompson believes it's part of a more complicated issue.

"It speaks to what's going on in our community right now as we've had a boom people moving to Montana in the past couple of years as a factor -- as well as the low vacancy rate in Missoula that could be one to two percent at times," Allison Thompson: said. "And there are people out there looking for jobs but when they do find work they are underemployed and are not able to afford housing."

What can you do to help? The Poverello Center needs donations of towels, blankets, toilet paper and cash donations to help pay for the extra staff needed at night.

Missoula's Community Medical Center is collecting items from staff who were interested in helping out and would like to extend this to the general public by offering donation locations around Missoula, Lolo and Stevensville.

CMC will be collecting following donation locations through Friday, March 2 at the CMC cafeteria, FirstCare at the Trempers Shopping Center, FirstCare on Reserve Street, FirstCare on Highway 93 in Lolo and ar CPG in Stevensville.

CMC states in a news release that the Poverello Center needs the following items:

  • Toilet paper
  • Blankets
  •  Towels
  • Silverware
  • Coffee cups
  • Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, lotion, soap)
  • Laundry soap
  • Hand warmers
  • Socks
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Monetary donations

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