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Missoula unveils new strategy to help combat winter homelessness

Homeless Population
Poverello Center
Salvation Army
Posted at 10:34 AM, Oct 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-24 12:34:39-04

MISSOULA — It's a move that helps make sure more of Missoula's homeless have a warm place to sleep this winter - the city of Missoula, the Poverello Center and the Salvation Army have unveiled a new strategy to help.

The Salvation Army scrambled into action last winter when Missoula’s homeless population was without a extreme winter weather shelter. But this year, they are an integral part to the city’s plan to keep the homeless populations safe through extreme cold and their excited to have had a full off-season to prepare

“Last year, you know, we found out at the very last minute that there wasn't going to be a cold weather shelter and so we just asked the question, ‘would it be possible to even try and come up with something at this late date’?” Salvation Army Captain Josh Boyd said.

“Now having had really almost a full year of informal planning and six months of intense planning we have been able to come up with a comprehensive plan that's going to far exceed what we were able to do last year -- and much better serve the community of Missoula,” he added.

Part of the plan was coordinating efforts between two of Missoula’s shelters -- the Poverello Center and the Salvation Army -- which should increase the efficiency of this emergency shelter.

“So this year, because we are coordinating -- and because we have this new system in place, we will be able to make sure that both of these sites are using up there space more effectively," Boyd told MTN News. "So, we aren’t having an overflow of too many people at the Salvation Army when there are available spaces at the Poverello Center.”

“So they are wonderful partners. We so appreciate them and work with them year round. They also serve the same population that we do, just in different ways," said Poverello Center executive Director Amy Allison Thompson. "And so, we are very excited to work with them -- and their facility is really very ideal for this because they have laundry facilities and shower facilities, which are super important.”

The Poverello Cebter will also now switch from a strict no entry if not sober policy to a behavioral-based model that should allow more of the homeless population to use their facility.

“So, being behavior-based is actually a best practice nationally according to the National Alliance to End Homelesness. And so, that’s something that we've been working towards," Allison Thompson said. "And so, this is a good time for us to try that out and really serve folks in a dignified way just come as you are as long as your behavior is acceptable.”

Both groups will start winter operations on Nov. 1. The Poverello Center and Salvation Army are currently looking for donations, including towels, blankets, toiletries, cleaning supplies, socks, and winter clothing.