MISSOULA – With political cohesiveness, and even a few tears, the Missoula City Council is granting a permit which will allow construction of a new shelter that will give dozens of homeless families a place to rebuild their lives.
The Missoula YWCA was asking the city for a conditional use permit to construct the nearly 37,000-square foot center on South Third Street West, a facility that will provide transitional housing for some of the dozens of homeless families.
Those families are currently often forced to live in their cars or other vehicles after they lose their apartments or homes for a variety of reasons. YWCA leaders told the council they will team with the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative, which has been sheltering some families in local churches.
“Our community is home to the largest population of homeless families in the state and we’re the only urban city in Montana that doesn’t have a family shelter,” said Missoula YWCA Executive Director Cindy Weiss. “There are up to 50-literally homeless families in Missoula every night. And currently between the YWCA and Family Promise we can just house 16 of them.”
Council members praised the collaboration, with councilman — and frequent government critic — Jesse Ramos saying it was the “happiest he’d been voting” for an issue on the council. Councilwoman Heidi West became emotional as she said it will be “so nice” to have somewhere “solid” to refer families for help.
The shelter will also replace the YWCA’s aging domestic violence shelter with better safety and security for victims.