MISSOULA — Every night, about 300 people camp in Missoula.
This camping is seen in the sleeping bags hidden beside buildings and the tents lining various areas in town. For most, this camping takes the place of traditional housing.
The city and county of Missoula have promised 400 units of affordable and supported housing to address some of the area's housing and homeless issues. The units, however, are still being built.
In the meantime, authorized campsites and Temporary Safe Outdoor Spaces serve as an immediate, temporary fix to a long term problem.
“Ideally, people will have a little more support as they live outdoors until they find housing that works for them," said Partnership Health executive director Laurie Francis.
In Missoula, where compassion keeps the community afloat, providing a safe and livable space for people without housing is only step one.
Coming soon is a new resource to compliment existing services -- and it’s funded by the city and county of Missoula. The name is in the works, but for now, Francis has deemed it “Care on the Move.”
"What 'Care on the Move' will do, and I think this is incredibly cool, is we'll be working with the Poverello Center, Homeword, family medicine residency, and the county and city to pool our best skills and resources,” said Francis. “Partnership’s job is to coordinate these five or six entities so that every day in either of these places we have availability to help folks.”
This mobile care team is intended to provide staff capacity, expertise, and trained providers to meet people where they are.
“Those individuals are in the driver's seat and we're the invited guests in the passenger seat,” said Francis.
This initiative is still in the early stages of development, and will take off once more concrete plans have been set for Missoula’s authorized camping site and other emergency shelters.