Friday Briefs: Homeless Camps, Refugees And Convention Centers

by Travis Mateer

UPDATE: a commenter pointed out the 75 humanitarian parolees will be coming to Montana; not all 75 will be coming to Missoula as my initial reporting states.

On Thursday, Missoula’s illuminated braintrust declared the homeless situation around the Reserve Street bridge as UNTENABLE. Once the new camp is established off Clark Fork Lane, the illegal encampment will be cleared out. From the link:

Once the site is open, the city and county have said they’ll be able to enforce the no-trespassing rules now in place under Reserve Street. Camping there is already illegal, though it could now come with enforcement.

“We can’t tell people not to camp on public property unless we give them an option of somewhere else to go, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Commissioner Dave Strohmaier. “Until such a time as we can provide an option, we can’t do that (enforcement).”

Yes, Missoula has an emergency shelter and a family shelter and we bought a motel and are looking to buy another motel and we have a winter shelter on Johnson street and a Transitional Safe Outdoor Space, but all that isn’t enough when it comes to “options” for illegal campers at Reserve.

Welcome to the homeless industrial complex.

Refugees without homes is a TOTALLY DIFFERENT situation, and Missoula will be getting 75 FULLY VETTED refugees from Afghanistan. Republicans like Senator Daines and Governor Gianforte are saying good things, but Republican Matt Rosendale said this:

‘Today I learned that 75 refugees from Afghanistan will be arriving in Montana. I strongly oppose the resettlement of these Afghan nationals in Montana. Following the Biden Administration’s disastrously mismanaged withdrawal from Afghanistan, I warned that we could not use this Administration’s incompetence to justify flooding our communities with unvetted refugees. The traditional vetting process for these individuals is a 14-step procedure that takes well over a year. The mass evacuation of over 100,000 Afghan nationals in a matter of weeks has made proper vetting of these individuals nearly impossible. At this time, it appears extremely unlikely the Biden Administration properly vetted the Afghan nationals being resettled in Montana. I have advocated that we should try and settle these individuals in other countries around Afghanistan that share their values and culture, especially if we can not ensure proper vetting. As elected officials, it is our duty to protect the citizens we represent—and I will not allow this Administration to compromise the safety of Montanans.’

Instead of focusing on the vetting process, Rosendale should ask whether or not a Zoom Town like Missoula, with a serious housing crisis featuring skyrocketing rent and an abysmal vacancy rate, is a good place to be bringing refugees fleeing America’s stupidest and longest war.

And, finally, some mysterious developer who doesn’t want to get preemptively Checota’d is helping to revive the Fox Theater site because there is SO MUCH TAX REVENUE waiting to be unlocked by this massive development project that won’t fucking die, despite the misleading title of this MC article: Once dead, hotel and events center in downtown Missoula may have new life. From the link:

While the economic impacts of the pandemic put an end to the hotel project, MRA Director Ellen Buchanan said in June that a new team of developers was interested in the parcel. The hotel project, when combined with the Scott Street housing project, would create roughly $2.7 million in newly taxable value, city officials said Wednesday.

The city has resisted other lesser development opportunities on the parcel, hoping the hotel and events center would come to fruition. A study conducted by the national planning firm Conventions Sports and Leisure in 2015 estimated that a Missoula conference center alone would bring $14 million in direct economic impact to the community each year.

There was a strong feeling that we needed to use it (the property) as wisely as possible to have a transformative project there,” said Jones. “There could have been other things built over the years that would have been far more minimal.”

I emphasized that last part because I’m curious who Gwen Jones thinks she’s speaking for when she uses the pronoun “we”.

I know! How about we do a poll of Missoula residents so we can quantify this allegedly “strong feeling” Gwen Jones claims “we” have for a transformative project.

Yeah, right. That would require our illuminated braintrust to give a fuck about public opinion. And guess what? They DO NOT GIVE A FUCK about any options that deviate from their illuminated vision for our Zoom Town.

So bring on the refugees (after they get their horse dewormer) and the homeless camps! And build that convention center! There will always be critics, but as long as you have unshakable faith in the righteousness of your vision, it’s pretty easy to tell those critics to fuck off.

Thanks for reading!

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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1 Response to Friday Briefs: Homeless Camps, Refugees And Convention Centers

  1. Pete Talbot says:

    Montana, not Missoula, is getting 75 Afghan refugees. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story, though.

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