by William Skink
In January Missoula service providers conducted the point-in-time survey, an annual count of people experiencing homelessness. A few months ago the data was released and preliminary results indicated homelessness was down:
Preliminary numbers from the annual Point-in-Time study show Missoula’s homeless numbers went down this year. Now, experts wonder what the pandemic means for next year.
In Missoula’s district, which includes Missoula, Mineral and Ravalli counties, 354 people were marked as homeless. That’s down from the peak in 2015 at 538 but up from our low point in 2005 at 245.
Today the reporting from NBC Montana has the Poverello telling a different story:
Montana’s largest homeless shelter is seeing an uptick in those living unsheltered.
“We have pretty significant growth of people who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness, so they are out in the community, so I think people in Missoula are seeing that as they see the encampments grow,” Poverello Center director of development and advocacy Jesse Jaeger said.
I don’t doubt an uptick is happening. Part of that is the usual seasonal uptick. And I’m sure the ripples are starting, though it won’t be until the end of this month where things will get a little more serious for a lot more people.
I wonder what the plan will be this year when the cold returns. I don’t think the Salvation Army has been open for day services since the pandemic got serious here in the states, and I somehow doubt the city has enough Covid money to entice them to open their doors to winter overflow.
The city will have the Sleepy Inn, will that be part of the winter solution? Or does the Mayor have other solutions in mind?