by Travis Mateer
Date: March 28th, 2023 Time: 9:30am-11:00am Mileage: 10 miles Location: Reserve Street area Missoula, Montana Business contacts: 4 Government/Community contacts: 2 Houseless contacts: 0
Above are the basic numbers from the first Assess and Address outing funded by Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF). This would be an example of quantitative data.
While donors like this kind of data, since it feels more concrete and it’s easier to plug into an app or spreadsheet, I like trying to illuminate the qualitative data, which can be related in a more narrative manner, since it represents NON-numerical information.
Three of the four businesses I outreached today were hotels along Reserve Street and I did this outreach after doing a walk-through of an area where no active sites currently exist. Had there been any “houseless” contacts to report, additional quantitative data could include any referrals I’m able to give for the appropriate services.
The first two hospitality staff I spoke with were fairly non-responsive to my inquiries about problems from illegal camping along the creek. The third hospitality worker, on the other hand, told me a story about a co-worker pulling someone from the creek who was having a mental health crisis. “It’s a real problem,” he said. All three got my business card and some other questions I found convenient to ask people in this industry.
The other business contact is someone I have spoken with for many years, going back to my time working at the homeless shelter where a young woman recently claimed to have purchased meth.
After checking in with this pawn shop owner, I traipsed behind his property to check out the once sprawling inhabitation/disaster zone of a client I referred to as “A”. It wasn’t until AFTER doing a quick follow up that I realized the inanimate blue tarp was more than likely hiding someone behind it, since the man had just received a text from his wife that she saw someone walk back beneath the bridge minutes before I did.
An interesting part of my conversation with the pawn shop owner entailed his referencing of the Broken Windows theory. Ironically, this theory, which I used to complain about, is now an aspect of why I’m doing what I’m doing. Preventative clean-ups remove visual cues that no one in the area gives a shit about trash and other activities.
Also, if we’re trying to assess the qualitative impact of my presence under the bridge for the few minutes I was there, my mere presence as a non-houseless person will act as a deterrent if there actually was someone under that blue tarp.
After doing the business outreach I made two follow up calls; one to the Montana Department of Transportation, and one to a local police officer about an issue the pawn shop owner is keeping an eye on.
Oh, I also stopped by the former Authorized Camping Site (ACS) to see if that failed experiment was cleaned up yet, and it mostly was. Remember, there was also meth being dealt out of this site as well.
To wrap up this first report, which took about an hour to write up, here is the cost break down. At an hourly rate of $20 dollars I’m paying myself $50 dollars for the 150 minutes, plus $6.50 dollars for the mileage, bringing the grand total of the day’s work to $56.50.
How is that bang for you buck, potential Travis Impact Fund donors?
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Thanks for reading!