MISSOULA - Officials with the Poverello Center are detailing plans to move a transitional housing program for homeless veterans to the recently purchased Clark Fork Inn.
Poverello Center Executive Director Jill Bonny noted the Housing Montana Heroes program serves about 35 veterans every year, "veterans have unique needs, especially veterans that are experiencing homelessness," she said.
The transitional housing program helps veterans get off the street, and into a permanent home.
"I think a lot of people don't realize that we have pretty robust services for our veterans. They have a case manager that meets with them all the time, and helps connect them with services, helps them with employment and accessing benefits, helps them find housing." - Poverello Center Executive Director Jill Bonny
Bonny said the program has operated out of the top floor of the Poverello Center since 2014, "room for 20 veterans, but they're in semi-private rooms, so basically it's two veterans to a room."
The purchase of the Clark Fork Inn will allow the program to expand and offer veterans private space.
"Really a congregate setting is difficult for anyone, but it's extremely difficult for veterans to interact with 100 people in a building. Being able to be in a quieter setting is really helpful for them," Bonny noted. "Also through that transition process, it's helpful for us to have them in a setting that's much more like what it's going to be like when they have their own apartment that's permanent."
The project is being funded by a $1 million grant from the US Veterans Administration, as well as some additional funding from the City of Missoula and Missoula County.
The Poverello Center is also making considerations for the current tenants at the motel. "There's 16 tenants in the 17 units," Bonny said. The project needs to be complete by September 2023, and Bonny said that will give them enough time to help relocate the tenants.
"Not only are we federally obligated to assist people in finding housing, but we are also morally obligated. This is literally what we do every day. We help people find housing, we know what resources to connect them to, we know what the resources are to helping them find housing. We're very committed to helping them find housing."
MTN News was unable to reach the Clark Fork Inn for comment Wednesday.