by William Skink
NBC Montana continues pestering local officials about the sprawling homeless encampment under and around the Reserve Street bridge.
NBC recently emailed video footage of the camp taken via drone to every City Council member and only one Council member responded, Julie Merritt. Merritt probably felt obligated to say something, since she’s a part of the Reserve Street Camp working group, but what she had to say makes one wonder what kind of “work” this working group has actually been doing.
Here’s Julie “no solution” Merritt providing an inspirational take on where they’re at in addressing the sprawling encampment:
“It’s such a big, big problem. One thing that I’ve been thinking about is that there’s no solution,” Merritt said.
In case you missed Merritt’s estimation that there is no solution to this big, big problem, she says it again after babbling some nonsense about more social workers:
“There’s been discussion around more social workers — trained people to be able to respond to certain situations, having a mobile crisis intervention team that could respond when it’s appropriate,” Merritt said.
Just eight years ago, Missoula’s mayor initiated a 10-year plan to end homelessness.
Merritt calls it an ambitious goal.
“We are a long way from reaching the goals that were set up. It’s again, it’s never — there’s no solution,” Merritt said.
Saying there is no solution twice in an article as short as this one is pretty pathetic. I wonder what the other members of the working group think about Julie Merritt’s perception that there is no solution? Do they agree? Why even bother meeting if there is no solution?
Instead of accepting Merritt’s defeatist attitude I decided to look for answers.
Since Missoula is aspiring to go “zero by fifty” (meaning no waste going into the landfill by 2050) I decided to go to their snazzy website to get ideas.
On the webpage that asks “What do I do with…? there are ideas on what to do with automotive materials, farm debris, office waste, batteries, food, paint, building materials, fats, oils and grease, paper and cardboard, cans, furniture and appliances, plastic, ceramics, glass, textiles, construction debris, hazardous waste, tools, light bulbs, toys, electronics, medical residuals, yard and garden waste and metals, but nothing about homeless encampments. Darn.
Welp, I guess there really is nothing anyone can do. Julie Merritt should be commended for her honesty and that working group should be disbanded since there are no solutions.