by Travis Mateer
The title of this post is not a sensationalist casting for clicks, it’s a genuine question I now have after several direct conversations with a man who has lived under the north side of the Reserve Street bridge for over 3 years.
The conversation I recorded with “A” yesterday is my last-ditch effort to provide clear evidence to contrast the claims being made by County Commissioner, Josh Slotnick, to a local business man, that this man is considering relocating to the official camp down the street from the bridge.
He is not.
What is discernible from the audio I recorded is mostly just my voice. “A” is inside a tent, so his responses to me are too muffled to hear. I went back later in the morning, hoping to have a better conversation, but “A”‘s dog convinced me to turn around and leave.
Before I left I communicated the existence of funds from the Lets Improve Reserve Street Facebook Group organizer to help individuals with relocation costs. I was able to hear his response that the church, River of Life, is supposedly going to help this man, so I’m going to reach out to them later today.
Here’s the audio:
I guess this man doesn’t believe the authority of this sign, newly posted, that his time under the bridge is coming to an end on Tuesday.
And here’s a portion of the email I sent the coordinator of Missoula’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, Emily Armstrong, after I took this picture and spoke with “A”.
I’m not going to let anyone involved with Missoula’s HIC (Homeless Industrial Complex) evade the fact my effective maintenance of this area, in collaboration with the Health Department and the Clark Fork Coalition, ended when I left my position as Homeless Outreach Coordinator in 2016. Since then there has been a slow reestablishment of entitled permanency that’s taken hold among the people living in this area.
The work to prepare “A”, mentally, for this coming transition was not done, from my perspective. What does that mean when enforcement finally returns to this area tomorrow?
I’m sure there will be more to report on this situation this week, so stay tuned. And please consider donating to my GoFundMe page if citizen journalism is something you find value in.