MISSOULA — The organizers of a temporary homeless camp on US Highway 93 are asking that the facility be extended, and officials say they want to make it permanent.
Hope Rescue Mission Executive Director Jim Hicks says the outdoor homeless shelter is able to operate at its current location as long as Missoula County remains in a declared emergency.
"We understand the angst of the growing population of those experiencing homelessness, but this is a West Coast -- this is an American problem," Hicks said.
"We will probably be able to operate at least through June or July," he continued. We have a variance because of the emergency edict, as soon as that is lifted we will have to go through all the standard regulatory procedures to get zoning out there."
That includes a public comment period, which Hicks said should start this month. Originally set to end in April, he said extending the time will let it become a stepping stone to allow for transitional housing; from homeless to being housed.
He said the people staying there are very grateful, "there's some incredible stories of people moving forward, and that's why we're doing this."
Hope Rescue Mission reports 20 of the residents out here are now in case management, many of those for the first time. People are getting help with addiction issues, and other services. Additionally, six have already landed permanent housing and he says that's all thanks to the resources on site.
"It's a challenging problem, that we don't want to shy away from, even though it's very complicated," Hicks told MTN News.
Hicks said they have been looking at other land locations for about a year, in the hopes of becoming a permanent service, but this is currently the best fit.
There will be a virtual public meeting on April 27, with a chance for public comment. Click here to learn more about the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space.