BUTTE — The economic hardship brought on by the pandemic, coupled with the lack of affordable housing, has left many people in Butte with nowhere to go.
“There are two pandemics: One with the COVID virus, the other is the rash of homelessness. It’s all across the United States,” said Bryan Hovey, who has been living at the shelter in Butte.
The Butte Rescue Mission Center for Hope is taking in more people who have no permanent place to stay.
“The year 2020 we were at 70% capacity and this year we're at about 90% capacity, so every night we are almost full,” said Shelter Director Brayton Erickson.
One man came to Montana to find work at Yellowstone Park but was unable to find housing.
“Everything was ridiculously expensive. I always used to spend $75 a night at Holiday Day Inn, now all of the sudden, it’s like $320, you know, this was no way. So, I mean, after spending nights in bus stations and freezing my tailbone off, I finally found the shelter,” said Hovey.
The Butte shelter has a total of 56 beds and management is seeking grants to expand the facility to provide much-needed services.
“I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better, so we want to continue to expand our services to help people,” said Erickson.
And while things got pretty dark, Hovey says he’s just grateful Butte has a shelter to give him hope and a second chance to turn his life around.
“I don’t have much longer to live, I’m 71 years old, I’ve got a bad heart, yes, but I want to make my last years on Earth productive, I want to be a productive member of society, I don’t want to be, you know, a rotten corpse in an unknown grave,” said Hovey.