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Poverello Center, city officials, work to solve "urban camping" issue

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missoula homeless
missoula homeless
Poverello Center
Posted at 4:14 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 18:15:40-04

MISSOULA — MTN News is following up on Missoula’s homelessness issue.

Just last week, there were tents set up outside the Poverello Center but the city and law enforcement have been on the scene to clear the people out.

We caught up with Poverello Center Director of Development and Advocacy Jesse Jaeger to get his perspective. "There was kind of a growing health emergency that was growing there because of urban camping."

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There are still signs of about a dozen tents that were set up near Cedar Street just days ago.

Information from a press release says conditions in the so-called tent city were unsanitary, citing needles, and human waste accumulation.

"We worked really closely with our partners in the city and the county to figure out a humane way to address that issue,” Jaeger noted.

He says many of the people that were camping have been placed in temporary housing.

"We were able to get a couple people referred to the YWCA, a couple of people were able to get access to housing vouchers,” Jaeger told MTN News.

poverello center encampment

When we caught up with Jaeger last week, he said a lot of people camping are Missoula residents who lost their housing, and were displaced during the pandemic.

"As our homeless outreach team interacts with those folks, what they're noticing is that they're people that are newly homeless that they're running into more and more."

That's why Jaeger says compassion is important.

"That is always our goal at the Poverello Center, especially with those that are most vulnerable. At the same time, we need to continue to work towards those longer-term solutions we need more housing, we need more mental health supports, we need more substance abuse treatment facilities in our community to really get at the root causes of these issues." - Poverello Center Director of Development and Advocacy Jesse Jaeger

But Jaeger says the Poverello Center’s role is not policy, but keeping people alive. "It's getting cold."

Jaeger says the Poverello Center is working with the City for plans for an emergency winter shelter that they hope to release before the weather gets too much colder.