MISSOULA — The Temporary Safe Outdoor Space (TSOS) has been in operation along US Highway 93 in Missoula since last winter.
It was intended as a COVID-19 response to aid in social distancing and other resources for the homeless during the pandemic.
Now, officials say, it's going so well, they want to make it permanent. There will be a meeting this week to discuss more of the details.
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According to a press release seven people have transitioned to permanent housing, and another four are waiting to move.
Officials also say law enforcement has only been called to the site once, and a few medical emergencies have occurred.
It's funded by CARES Act money, emergency support grants through the Human Resource Council and private donations.
But the operations have been controversial, as some neighboring businesses and homeowners express concerns about relocating this population to their side of town.
MTN News recently caught up with one man staying out on site.
Following years of couch surfing and homelessness, he said the resources there have improved his quality of life and helped him get closer to permanent housing.
"Even though it's an unfortunate one, there could be a lot worse circumstances to be in," Travis Beam said.
He has been couch surfing around town for the past three years, "it doesn't matter what your story is, what you've been through, who you are."
Beam says he aged out of the foster care system in 2017 and was left with nowhere to go.
"I moved here to Montana to live with my mother, I moved to Stevensville. Things were going good in the beginning, things started going downhill by September 2017, and by October I was homeless permanently."
That's when he got into drugs, and later, recovery. He's now 11 months clean and said he's "really happy about that, I'm ecstatic."
And things are looking up, "everything couldn't be going better for me," Beam said.
He currently, lives at the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space, "there couldn't be a better place for you if you're homeless," he continued.
He says he's been offered a second job and had a housing voucher approved through the Missoula Housing Authority.
"I'll be in my own place for the first time in my entire life that I can call my own home. That in and of itself is worth it."
Again, seven have obtained permanent housing through the shelter. Success stories like this, are why officials say, the TSOS, is working.
This week's virtual meeting will take place from 12 to 1 p.m. Tuesday, on Microsoft Teams.
Members of the public and news media can join the session using the following information:
- Join on your computer or mobile app
- Click here to join the meeting
- Call in (audio only) +1 406-272-4824 Phone Conference ID: 900656388#