by Travis Mateer
Since our elected leaders and non-profit influencers are so fond of plans, I have developed a 4 Point Plan to Restore Trust between so-called homeless advocates and the broader Missoula Community.
Before getting to my plan, I’d like to note that NO PUBLIC MONEY was used in the development of this plan. When our so-called homeless advocates and their political handlers do their plans, it usually costs lots of public money. Not so with my plan.
Here are the 4 points of my plan:
POINT 1: a change in leadership at United Way
POINT 2: an independent review of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness
POINT 3: a review of incidents of violence at the Poverello Center and Johnson St.
POINT 4: a critical conversation about the role of local media
My plan is now live as a petition on Facebook and I’ll be going out into our community to build support for my plan.
Now, let’s get into some of the meat behind these points.
The Executive Director of United Way, Susan Hay Patrick, has become a toxic obstructionist toward the clean-up efforts I’m directly involved in at Reserve Street. I believe this toxicity stems from a number of things Patrick is trying to keep from public view, including the PRIVATE part of the public/private partnership at the now TRANSITIONAL Safe Outdoor Space off Highway 93.
To counter the United Way’s defensive efforts to control the narrative, I went on KECI yesterday to voice my concerns:
Travis Mateer, the former homeless outreach coordinator for the Poverello Center, met with us last August to discuss his concerns about Missoula’s Reserve Street homeless camp.
When we talked to him then, he made it clear there’s no solution but things need to change. After the cleanup, Mateer says the time is now.
He tells NBC Montana his frustrations have grown significantly since the last time we talked with him.
He points to the fact a young Native American woman’s ID was found in the trash last week as proof of the problem.
He says the area has changed.
“I don’t intend to stigmatize people, but these are marginal places. An illegal encampment and bad things have happened out here, and these are the kind of places where people can disappear. I have kids, I have a young girl, I’m really interested in public safety when it comes to protecting our most vulnerable populations,” said Mateer.
In addition to finding the young Salish woman’s ID, I have also spoken with TWO women who live in the area, and both of them told me about a man with a dog who has been starting fires in the area. This was confirmed by a landowner who actually saw this guy fleeing a small fire that, were it lit in the dry summer months, could have threatened houses.
The second point of my plan is an INDEPENDENT review of Missoula’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. I’d like that review to focus on Michael Moore’s time leading that plan, the stuff he said he accomplished (which I know he didn’t), and why that plan was MOVED from United Way’s purview to the City. I would also like an accounting of where the Coordinated Entry System is currently at, and how each “front door” to homeless services is screening clients.
Like that guy from Idaho who bludgeoned Lee Nelson to death in the middle of the day, right next to where Nick Checota was set to build his BIG DRIFT.
The third point of my plan is a review of incidents of violence at the Poverello Center and Johnson Street shelter (supposedly set to close April 30th). These incidents of violence, like the assault the led to Sean Stevenson’s death, and the sexual assault of a disabled man, doesn’t give other homeless individuals in need of services much confidence that they will be kept safe INSIDE the homeless shelter.
Again, this isn’t just me saying this, I am SPEAKING TO ACTUAL CLIENTS about their VERY LEGITIMATE CONCERNS regarding safety INSIDE THE POV.
My final point is a critical conversation about how local media has contributed to the problems in our community when it comes to the homeless conversation. I credit the Missoulian, specifically, with derailing the collaborative efforts at Reserve Street after I left my job as Homeless Outreach Coordinator.
And now the Missoulian is helping Susan Hay Patrick and the United Way control the message. I’m sure it helps to have Missoulian publisher Jim Strauss on your board when some obnoxious former service provider starts trying to expose your years of political scheming and policy failures.
I don’t have a board with bankers and newspaper publishers on it to protect me, and I don’t have a budget, and I don’t have much support from those I used to work with because they exist in occupied territory where, even if they agreed with me, they could be jeopardizing their job if they speak up.
I know this risk exists because just writing a critical poem about sidewalks led City Council person Gwen Jones to angrily violate my first amendment right to free speech when she exploited her position as a board member of the non-profit where I worked to verbally berate and bully me for my modest act of criticism.
I spoke about that experience when Gwen Jones took control of the Finance Committee in a little municipal coup a few years ago.
I have some VERY GOOD REASONS to not trust the funders and public officials who feel threatened by transparency and informed questions from a knowledgeable former service provider. In order to regain that lost trust, some things need to change.
This plan is just the beginning.