The Time Has Come…For A New Plan To End Homelessness!

by Travis Mateer

To endure the 90 minutes of informal reporting from the 10 year plan to end homelessness analysis, completed by JG Research, I developed a game to keep myself from falling asleep. The game was simple: every time the person speaking used the word “folks” I make a tally to see who can present themselves in the least offensive manner possible when entering the minefield-topic of homelessness.

If this presentation was so boring for me, why did I attend? I attended because NO ONE in Council chambers knows this topic like I do. The program I started–the Homeless Outreach Team–was referenced as one of the bright spots of programmatic development, and I’m actually quoted in the plan. I’ve also been writing about this community’s response to homelessness for years, like this post from last October.

Listening to the presentation wasn’t ALL mind-numbing propaganda and that’s one reason I attended. Having participated in one of the public workshops with JG Research after completing the survey, I was very interested to hear how my perspective was absorbed by this analysis. And I think it was.

One of the emphatic points I have been making is the squandering of 4 years when this plan was “housed” at United Way under the alleged supervision of Susan Hay Patrick, who was in attendance yesterday, along with all three County Commissioners. This perception of mine is backed up by the FACT that the Coordinated Entry System (CES), which was supposed to be the FIRST THING accomplished, wasn’t completed until 2017, AFTER the “Reaching Home” plan was taken from United Way’s control and placed under City supervision.

How do I know this? I know this because I spoke with Theresa Williams, the woman who scrambled to complete the CES when she took over from Michael Moore, so that Missoula wouldn’t lose out on HUD funding.

The Coordinated Entry System was a critical FIRST component of this plan to complete because data is supposed to drive all the solutions that come after these individual assessments, so NOT completing this part of the plan until 2017 WOULD be a big embarrassment IF we had effective media doing their job to inform the public about what the fuck is going on.

The presenters from JG Research touched on this delay in quality data collection from NOT completing the CES until 2017 when they noted the “increased completeness of data collection” in their presentation. Maybe I’m reading too much into this phrasing, but I think there just might be a HINT of defensiveness from the researchers here regarding the available data they had to work with.

One of the BIGGEST points of criticism JG Research had to convey to Council was the perception that our elected leaders and non-profit influencers had been TERRIBLE communicators about the 10 year plan to end homelessness. The researchers described how participants in the workshops kept asking the researchers to explain the plan to them, and the researchers had to keep explaining that their role was to ASSESS the plan, not educate the public about what it was in the first place. Ouch!

You won’t get any of this context in the Missoulian article about this presentation. What you’ll get is some lipstick slapped on to United Way’s Piggy Time with Reaching Home, inverting the unnecessary 4 year delay into one of the big bright spots of the plan. This is the result of media relations alchemy, one of the few areas Susan Hay Patrick can still find success. From the link (emphasis mine):

Although representatives of the research firm stressed the lack of comprehensive data about the problem in Missoula, they nonetheless identified successes and gaps that were created by implementing the plan.

The greatest success, according to the presenters, was the creation of Missoula’s Coordinated Entry System in 2017. The system allowed for a single entry point into service provision for all Missoulians experiencing houselessness. It helped cut down on competition between service providers, enabled centralized data about the population and increased efficiency all around.

The Missoulian article ALSO does the work of setting up the NEXT plan, along with citing another memorable moment from the 90 minute presentation, and that’s Brandn Green’s sewage analogy. Here’s more from the article with my emphasis:

JG analyst Brandn Green said the 10-year plan operated “like a good sewage system,” creating successes for the city behind the scenes. But he also pointed to limitations, including communication, engagement, available affordable housing and support for people experiencing substance use disorders.

Green also suggested the time has come for the city to look into developing its next plan to address houselessness.

Yes, Brandn with no “e”, the time has come to connive another con upon the Missoula community so that the purveyors of the Homeless Industrial Complex can be insulated from the consequences of their massive failures. And because our Council members seemed generally desperate for ANY help in providing a direction on next steps, I took less than a minute to offer my perspective on how to SHIFT the perspective from the LIVED experiences of those without houses to the DEATH experiences. Here’s my comment:

That’s right, I suggested tapping the Headwaters Foundation in order to launch a NEW STUDY into how people without houses are dying in Missoula. This would take coordinating data from the Coroner’s office (which is also the Sheriff’s Office) and the state crime lab, in addition to establishing some kind of MOU (memorandum of understanding) with private sector hospitals, like St. Pats. I suggested starting with the deaths of Sean Stevenson, Johnny Lee Perry, and Lee Nelson.

Since my two comments entailed my stated concern regarding the treatment of houseless people as either formal or INFORMAL informants by law enforcement (I’m looking at YOU, Detective Baker), I offered my constructive impression on some police policy, like how Missoula PD handles evidence because they could use some additional training on how to professionally handle evidence.

Why am I so hung up on houseless informants, you might be wondering? The answer to that involves what happened to Sean Stevenson, what he knew, and the synchronicity lurking behind this image:

Does the cleavage of this celebrity next to a man who died houseless in Missoula grab your attention? It shouldn’t take crass appeals to baser instincts to garner attention for a situation in which the man on the right, Sean Stevenson, was removed from life support by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office WITHOUT first notifying his family.

But I agree, IT IS TIME for a new plan, and I’m not talking about scams that leverage human desperation for more money and control. To know what I’m talking about, stay tuned here for more. And toss me some monetary support (if you’re so inclined) at my about page. Any little bit helps.

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 The Time Has Come…For A New Plan To End Homelessness!

  1. The Time Has Come for MISSOULA to decide if ANYONE beside Travis is decent enough and honest enough to want the TRUTH to come out about the exceptionally egregious way in which Sean was taken away from his loving family. Someone there knew and loved Sean, he was someone who made friends easily. Sean was houseless only temporarily. His employer was set to make his temp position permanent. It was reported how he lit up the pool hall whenever he came in. Surely someone ASIDE from all the authorities who have lied to and stonewalled our family KNOWS SOMETHING. Perhaps someone can explain how a ostensibly “Christian” hospital could allow such a hasty euthanization of a man that had everything to live for and then lie to the family about EVERYTHING. If the police/sheriffs are created to “Protect and Serve” WHY would they require an NDA after months of stonewalling and deception before releasing a trove of documents that prove that the entire affair was corrupt to the core. We are constantly being taught that NO ONE is above the law. Does that ONLY apply to the relevant authorities when cell phone or bodycam videos are available ? If you saw something, say something ! If you know something say something !
    Sean already missed seeing his beloved daughter crowned World Champions in Cheer with her team ! Sean won’t be there to walk her down the aisle, or to cuddle any future children, she may have. Sean won’t get to spoil his grandchildren. While NOTHING can bring Sean back to us, YOUR STATEMENTS OF TRUTH will certainly help bring us closure and perhaps bring about justice in his untimely death. Know this also, that if you remain silent, then you are also COMPLICIT in this whole tawdry event. Perhaps Words from Scripture would be sufficient to bring your testimony out of the silence where it currently lies in hiding.

    Num 32:23 But if ye will NOT DO SO, behold, ye have SINNED against the LORD: and be sure your SIN will find you out !

    Dr Kenneth Stevenson (still grieving after three years)

    PS: As a former Combat Pilot during Vietnam turned Pastor for over 37 years, I pray that someone would NOT want Sean’s unsolved, murder, resuscitation and euthanization on their soul !

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