Butte shelter delay has group scrambling to help homeless

Posted at 10:55 AM, Nov 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-06 12:33:57-05

BUTTE – It’s unlikely the Butte Rescue Mission will have its new homeless shelter on East Platinum Street ready by the end of this year. Homeless advocates say they need to find other ways to keep those living on the streets warm.

“The lack of emergency shelter in the coming months we wanted to come together as a group, not just Action Inc. but also some great volunteers to come together as a group and get some winter weather supplies gathered and distributed for the folks that are sleeping outside,” said Stephanie Marshall of Action Inc.

Action Inc. opened up a temporary homeless shelter last winter in a vacant building on North Main Street, however, they don’t have the resources to do it again this year.

“We didn’t want to see people die on the street and this year we don’t have the resources or the staff take on that effort by increasing the diversion effort with more case management and also do more housing,” said Marshall.

Action Inc. plans to hire a new staff member in the coming weeks whose sole job is to help homeless people find a place to live.

“Maybe divert them to another family member to find that linkage or if they’re already homeless get them to a warm safe place and in some cases, that means bridge housing like motel vouchers, like gas cards or bus tickets to get them someplace warm,” said Marshall.

The volunteers say the donated items are going directly to those living on the streets. She even saw a homeless person get a much-needed sleeping bag.

“A man came in and he had been sleeping under a bridge for a while, and he started crying because he never thought he could own a sleeping back,” said volunteer Haley McKnight.

With crews still trying to put in the infrastructure and the foundation for the new shelter, it’s unlike to be ready by the end of this year.

“The open date keeps getting pushed back further but we still got people coming in from places like Bozeman and Missoula and they’ve got this expectation here and there’s no place for them to go,” said. McKnight.

-John Emeigh reporting for MTN News