New tools helping serve, montior Missoula’s homeless community

Posted at 7:41 AM, Jan 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-30 09:46:44-05

MISSOULA – A new database that’s tracking how services are provided to Missoula’s homelessness is providing answers to questions that have never been answered before.

It’s all in an effort to end homelessness in the Garden City by 2022 and on Tuesday night the  “Reaching Home” program shared one success story of the 10 year plan.

Coordinator Theresa Williams says the program has established ways to help the homeless transition from shelters to more permanent, and stable, living conditions. Officials are using a new Coordinated Entry System in hopes to provide real-time homeless data for Missoula and across the state.

“Now, we’re able to see the data that’s starting to come out and we really want to make data-driven decisions and also to help promote change,” Williams explained. “We are excited. In the next year, we’ll be able to show you some of that data.”

The impacts of these new infrastructures are starting to pay off.

Missoula Police Officer Randy Krastel says the program has created a web of relationships within the community — a database of connections that was never established until the program began.

“No police officer had that back in the day when I first started. We just responded, dealt with it the best we could and we moved onto the next. We didn’t have the answers, we didn’t have the solutions – we didn’t know what to do,” Krastel recalled.

“We did our best at 4 a.m. when it’s zero degrees outside. Now, I have connections and that’s what life is all about —  it’s connections. Who do we contact next to find the answer? And that’s the biggest difference from then and now,” he added.

The group will now transition into stage three of the program which includes making adjustments to ensure sustainability to the program –- something Williams says can be very challenging.

“In talking with other technical assistants — providers that have worked in communities that have ended homelessness — this is where they say it’s the hardest phase,” Williams said.

We haven’t ended homelessness yet here in Missoula but in other communities that have — again trying to sustain that momentum and infrastructure has been really challenging,” she continued.

“This is one area that I am really excited to look forward and keep working and building out our Co-ordinated Entry System in collaboration and working together.,” Williams concluded.

The next phase involves keeping up with funding trends and emerging best practices around the country to end homelessness.

Click here for more information on “Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.”