by William Skink
Homelessness is going down in Missoula. For years that is what we were being told. Even as recently as May of 2020, the numbers from the annual point in time survey continued to show a decline in the number of people experiencing homelessness:
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.
This annual counting of homeless people every January is a HUD requirement. Also, it’s a fucking joke, as I’ve written about previously.
Now that the pandemic has popped off the PR lid from reality, things that we were being told were getting better–like homelessness and violent crime–can now receive new rounds of hand-wringing from our enlightened braintrust, like the Department of Everything director Eran Pehan, who claims we are more prepared than ever to help the homeless.
Pehan is correct, Missoula is MORE PREPARED than ever, thanks in large part to Covid money. Now we have the main emergency shelter on Broadway, and a new overflow shelter in a warehouse, and an outdoor encampment, and a “congregate” motel, and, finally, a family shelter finishing up its build.
That’s a lot of infrastructure for a problem that was supposedly improving year after year.
The latest locale for triaging homelessness will be getting some public comment via Zoom this Wednesday. I’ll be tuning to hear what frustrated members of the community will be asking, after public input was put on the back-burner by our illuminated braintrust because COVID EMERGENCY!
One of the pieces of information I will be listening for is the connection this outdoor encampment has with Blue Line Development. Here is a comment a buddy sent me from Facebook by a Casey Smith:
As a reminder, I wrote about a conflict of interest involving Blue Line Development and Ellen Buchanan, the director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, so I agree with Casey, more questions should be asked.
And if the media that won’t return my phone calls (but will happily use a picture of me to sell their corporate rag) won’t ask the questions that it’s their FUCKING JOB to ask, then I guess this reluctant citizen journalist will have to do their job for them.