by William Skink
I’ve been deliberately refraining from an immediate reaction to Missoula City Council’s interim zoning vote last Friday. I enjoyed the Thanksgiving break with friends and family and let my thoughts stew for a bit.
I had talked to someone at the Salvation Army before the holiday break, so I knew the vote was just one step in a longer, very uncertain process of raising money, hiring staff and creating rules for a program to serve some very challenging people with complicated histories and illnesses.
Sure enough, the reporting after the vote puts the monetary goal to be raised at $25,000. City Council appropriates that amount of money all the time to do things like study traffic, but apparently it’s just too damn late to find that kind of money:
Ward 5 Councilwoman Julie Armstrong asked the mayor if the city could provide any of the $25,000. The answer, via Development Services was no – primarily because all suitable grant funding already has been allocated by the granting agencies.
If the Salvation Army were to again provide shelter next winter, and the city knew that likelihood well in advance, the request could be included in the next round of grant applications.
What bullshit. Our elected leaders should have known since last March that an alternative to the Union Gospel Mission was needed to provide a warming space because it was City Fire that shut down both UGM and the subsequent effort at the Salvation Army after a long winter of looking the other way.
Instead of our secular local government getting any of the well-deserved criticism from Missoula residents for being unprepared for what winter in Montana means for the unsheltered, I found myself unprepared (and disgusted) by a social media backlash against the Salvation Army for not being inclusive.
Apparently Missoula do-gooders are more worried about a faith-based organization being inclusive than they are about people becoming dead human ice cubes on the side walks of our fair city.
To appease this waste-of-time response by morally selective assholes, the Salvation Army has pledged to be inclusive:
Leaders of the Salvation Army in Missoula on Monday emphasized that the overnight shelter they’ve pledged to open for the city’s homeless population will welcome all who come through the door.
The assurances came amid criticism on social media from local residents who believe the organization carries a Christian bias and discriminates against members of the LGBTQ community.
Not true, came the reply from Capt. Ryan Boyd, who manages the Salvation Army’s facility on Russell Street with her husband, Josh.
“The Salvation Army is open and inclusive to all people,” Boyd said in a written message.
Will this be enough for the critics, or would they like to further leverage the lives of chronically homeless people in order to impose their agenda of (selective) inclusivity?
I’ll be writing more on this, and have a first draft of a letter to the editor I’m trying to cut down because 200 words is not enough to express my deep disappointment and frustration over this topic.