by Travis Mateer
I’ll be the first one to admit my perspective contains biases. Some of these biases have been acquired through experience, like my insider perspective on the homeless issue and the Engen regime, and my experience with political retaliation. From these experiences I feel comfortable making the following assertion: power in Missoula is exerted in subtle, petty and VERY vindictive ways.
Let me provide an example.
But first, I’d like to thank the RD readers sending me insightful emails. I am crazy-busy with multiple projects, so it’s hard to keep up with the schemers of Zoom Town. I greatly appreciate the insights, and have multiple posts for the coming week bouncing around my head already.
This post is one that I almost didn’t write even though the headline is something I should have jumped on immediately: Missoula pushes toward first usage of Affordable Housing Trust Fund money.
Here is the key thing to focus on from this article: WHO got the money and WHO got denied.
I’ll make it simple for RD readers. Susan Hay Patrick’s United Way of Missoula got the money, and Heather Harp’s Habitat for Humanity did not.
Here’s the framing of the loot for Susan:
A $26,250 project with United Way is likely to be the first use of the money, which can be allocated as a grant or a loan. It passed 9-0 with one abstaining vote and moves to a public hearing, which will take place during a city council meeting on Nov. 8.
The United Way project is called the Centralized Housing Solution Fund, which “is a flexible financial assistance fund intended to divert households from the houselessness system in Missoula. It is available for households who identify it as a need for resolving their housing crisis through diversion or rapid exit conversations,” according to city documents. Projects were asked to be “innovative” in addition to other criteria.
Sounds all nice and dandy, right? What could be amiss? Well, you start getting a little peek when Heather Harp’s questions are introduced, but in a way that only close readers who know recent municipal history will pick up on.
Only 10% of the available trust fund dollars were allocated, which councilor Heather Harp questioned.
“We wanted to ultimately wait and encourage applicants to come back to the unified round, because it is right around the corner and we have an opportunity to provide feedback to applicants who did apply and also do some outreach and work with other community partners to encourage more applications,” Armstrong told the committee.
The unified round Armstrong mentions is the next round of trust fund grants and loans, which will happen in winter of 2022.
That’s right, only 10% of the money was allocated as YWCA families face eviction as the weather turns, and Emily Armstrong thinks that an entire year to wait is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER.
How much money is being left on the table? $273,750 dollars, that’s how much. I guess Heather Harp’s application was pretty shitty.
Or maybe this joke of a committee won’t be allocating money to Heather Harp because she’s still being punished for acting like a human being to the TIF activists, something Brandon Bryant recently discussed in my interview with him.
The article gets even more frustrating as Homeword director, Andrea Davis, describes her difficulties and concerns regarding the application process:
Andrea Davis, the executive director of Homeword, spoke to council during a public comment session regarding one of the projects that was not funded–a Habitat for Humanity project with which Homeword was assisting.
Davis said she has tried to register with Engage Missoula, the city’s website for projects going on in the community, five times and expressed concern Missoula was using that as its registration portal. She said the issue was never addressed.
Davis also said those involved with the Habitat for Humanity project received a notice that gave reasons for the application being denied, but did not see the rubric or how their project compared with others that were proposed for money from the trust fund.
The project they proposed was finding placement for five modular homes–sites for two of the five had been secured and identified–and Davis said one of the reasons given as to why their project was declined was because three other areas for those homes had not been identified.
“Two of the homes could have been placed immediately and there’s nothing that stops the staff or the selection committee from suggesting a partial funding of an application,” Davis said.
I’m sure there’s an objective, non-vindictive rationale for why Susan Hay Patrick’s non-profit always gets money while other non-profits get a caring middle-finger, but my biased eye can’t see it.
All I see are vindictive Engen enablers with long memories reminding people like Heather Harp who controls the purse strings.
Prove me wrong, Missoula.