MISSOULA — The City of Missoula has approved funding for use of a new emergency winter shelter for the homeless.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, the Poverello Center can only house 88 people per night.
But with colder weather creeping into Missoula, the city is looking for solutions for the rest of the homeless population and are eying a building as a new winter shelter.
“In a meeting on Wednesday, city council members unanimously approved a contract with the Poverello Center to fund the use of this building near Johnson Street as a temporary emergency winter shelter,” Missoula City Councilman Bryan von Lossberg said.
Poverello Center Executive Director Amy Allison Thompson says this is an urgent need.
"We are significantly reduced in our capacity, meaning that we have many more people sleeping outside right now, as folks may have noticed throughout the summer. We are really facing a serious shortage of shelter beds."
The space used last winter, at the Salvation Army, will not be operating this year.
The new shelter can sleep up to 150 people. Services, as well as the space, are being funded by a $300,000 federal grant, and $50,000 each from the City of Missoula and Missoula County.
"I think any of you can notice, as you drive through our community there are many more tents outside, and many more people that are in need of shelter, and that is due to COVID -- the economic impacts of that. But also, because [of] our reduction in shelter beds, so we do anticipate that this space will be utilized, yes,” Thompson said.
One hot meal will be provided per day, and the Poverello Center staff is working with the Missoula City-County Health Department to also provide sack lunches.
The new shelter -- which will be located in the Johnson Street Community Center at 1919 North Avenue West -- will be open during the coldest months of the year from Nov. 1 until March 31. There will be an open house on Thursday, Oct. 29 at the new location from 3:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.
The Salvation Army will be operating temporarily this weekend, as we are expecting colder temperatures.