MISSOULA — News broke this fall about a new temporary outdoor homeless shelter on the southside of Missoula.
The Hope Rescue Mission is now moving people from the Reserve Street encampment, to the new location.
Not everyone is happy about the move, but that's not stopping the nonprofit.
Trash, shopping carts, and tents all over the ground near Reserve Street. But the mess isn't the only controversy. Dozens of people are living illegally under the Reserve Street Bridge.
"The project just happened so quickly and came together so quick, that here we are today, and all we can do is apologize for the lack of communication," said April Seat with Hope Rescue Mission.
The new Temporary Safe Outdoor Space is aimed at helping to solve the problems the current encampment faces. Still, community members and businesses are speaking up this week, with concerns about moving this population to the other side of town.
"There's a lot of concerns about the environmental issues, trash, being able to use the restroom, and things of that sort," said Seat.
Seat said they understand the concerns, and expect the new COVID-response location will address them, "we're able to have all of those on site."
There are also complaints that the Hope Rescue Mission did not let people know about the new shelter.
"Our apologies are out there for not speaking to the business owners and the southside of town, but really it's just a temporary response, a COVID response to see what we can do to help those during this pandemic. But not only that, we've taken all the things into consideration, and the concerns that were here at Reserve, and we really spent time working hard to see what we can do in this new area," Seat said.
On Friday, Seat and other volunteers worked to move about eight people. She told us that at one point during the pandemic, about 120 people were living in the encampment.
"If you can just give us an opportunity, give us a chance, to help these folks that are in desperate need and greatest need to transition into housing and permanent solutions," said Seat.
Seat said the new Temporary Safe Outdoor Space will be around half capacity by the end of this weekend.
A public question-and-answer session will be held on Dec. 16 about the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space.
Here are the Zoom instructions for the meeting:
Click the following link to join the webinar: https://ci-missoula-mt.zoom.us/j/84045466167?pwd=YWtsRHBoRCsrT1lXQyt0ZTZ3Z1FHQT09#success / Passcode: 117479
Or iPhone one-tap: US: +12532158782,,84045466167# or +12133388477,,84045466167#
Or Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 253 215 8782 or +1 213 338 8477 or +1 267 831 0333
Webinar ID: 840 4546 6167
Additional information about the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space can be found here.