Understanding The Narrow Scope Of Missoula’s Incident Command Team Approach To Finding More Homeless Shelter Locations In Missoula

by Travis Mateer

It took a conversation with Adriane Beck, the point person for Missoula’s Incident Command Team, for me to finally understand the very limited scope of their mandate, which is essentially over now.

The task of the ICT was to use specific criteria to assess over 20 possible locations for managing Missoula’s diverse homeless population. After 4 weeks, that work is wrapping up, and the recommendations are in:

The first is the former Sleepy Inn Motel, serving as a temporary Transitional housing for those needing a place to live for a short period of time.

“I think the importance is pretty paramount to create spaces to address those basic human needs,” Beck said.

The second site, known as the Clark Fork Land, would serve as legal and safe campground.

The third site, near the Missoula Cemetery, would be a ‘safe outdoor space’ equipped with hard-sided shelters.

The reason why Missoula’s current capacity to deal with homelessness–a capacity which includes a main homeless shelter, a new family homeless shelter, winter overflow on Johnson Street, a transitional Veterans shelter, and a transitional outdoor camp–isn’t enough is of course because COVID.

Please remember that and forget EVERYTHING else that was happening with homelessness in Missoula before the pandemic.

Here is our Mayor continuing to exploit the health emergency in order to justify using the Office of Emergency Management to spend time before the west explodes in flame for picking the next place to sprawl and disperse his 16 years of failure on this critical issue:

Mayor Engen said there’s an urgent need for the project, while the pandemic has local homeless shelters operation at 50% capacity, and Missoula’s homeless population continues to grow.

“Doing nothing is not an option and doing nothing will further exacerbate an already really difficult situation,” Engen said.

That’s why the Director of Missoula’s Incident Command Team, Adriane Beck, was tasked with finding a solution.

If you want to believe how Engen is framing this, fine. My interpretation is a little different. I think Beck and the ICT have been used to provide political cover after Engen and his new California police chief cleared out the West Broadway Island and then shut it down for six weeks (it’s now been seven weeks since that action was taken around May 26th).

Maybe there’s some benefit to having the ICT assess different sites for homeless overflow. Since they don’t have expertise in the area of homelessness, and weren’t really provided with any experts to provide insight, then they weren’t bogged down by the social complications and NIMBY considerations that could have mired the effort.

While that could be a benefit, there are larger concerns to consider, concerns I shared with Beck in my conversation with her, and which I touched on in this post. Is a military-structured Incident Command Team normally used for natural disasters really appropriate to be using for this? In that post I referenced the ICT approach in San Diego which put a library director and city manager in charge.

While it would be nice to have a public conversation about this, the peak of summer is when everyone gets out to enjoy the place they sacrifice so much in order to live in, so we’ll have to wait until next month, I’m guessing, to hear more about what the next steps are for OPERATION SHELTER.

Stay tuned…

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to Understanding The Narrow Scope Of Missoula’s Incident Command Team Approach To Finding More Homeless Shelter Locations In Missoula

  1. Ulrigg Johnnie says:

    And yet at the corner of orange and Broadway 420 West Broadway to be exact the mountain valley inn since empty with 60 motel rooms and a main office space that can provide services less than a block from St Patrick’s hospital

    But they don’t want that they want another tent City they don’t want them coming into town they want to put them out on the fringe

    Away from where all the mega rich transplants can see this stuff they don’t want you to see any of that

    The mayor of Missoula called himself a CEO CEOs can be fired will remove this mayor is unaccountable so how does he call himself a CEO when he doesn’t even show you how much he earns

    I still want to know why ZipRecruiter says he makes $172,000 a year which works out to $380 an hour

    I’ve looked and looked and looked at the budget to try and find the exact amount I believe it’s purposely clouded

    But that doesn’t get any money in the pockets of the Hope Church United Way or page pavalone and her band of Merry criminals

    The trick here is England needs to find a solution where he can enrichen and fat in the wallets of his oligarch friends…..

    Never at a loss for people who are looking for a little help and are able to put persons on an LLC anonymously until the IRS asked about it but it’s not required to tell the public

  2. Pingback: On Trying To Understand Martin Kidston’s Confusing Reporting Regarding Reserve Street Homeless Camps And MDOT’s Fence Strategy | Reptile Dysfunction

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