AA#5-Houseless Contact Conversations Plus Bonner And East Broadway

by Travis Mateer

Date: April 9th and 10th, 2023
Time: 3-4pm; 2:30-3:30pm
Location: Silver Park; West Broadway
Business contacts: 0
Government/community contacts: 2
Houseless contacts: 2

The drug epidemic masquerading as a homeless crisis is reaching apocalyptic levels in San Francisco with the high-profile stabbing of CashApp founder, Bobby Lee, and the beating of a former Fire Commissioner. It’s so unsafe on the streets, a flagship Whole Foods store just closed its doors after being open for a little over a year. From the link:

One of the largest supermarkets in Downtown San Francisco—the Whole Foods Market at Eighth and Market streets—intends to shut down at the close of business Monday just a little more than a year after the store opened, company officials told The Standard.

“We are closing our Trinity location only for the time being,” a Whole Foods spokesperson said in a statement. “If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location.”

I’m including the deteriorating situation in San Francisco in today’s report because of my concern that fear will lead our own community to degrade our ability to make distinctions between houseless people who are dangerous and need to be held accountable, and houseless people who are NOT dangerous, and face just as much risk, if not more, from the dangerous people riding the carousel between the jail, the hospital, and the streets.

In my AA#4 report, one of the community members I spoke with told me about an unsafe person by the name of Jason Coffee who worried local residents in this area last year before committing an act of violence against a woman that finally took him off the streets. This community member told me of another person living under a bridge in the same area, so I made a mental note to check it out.

On Easter I ran into this houseless individual, and it turned out to be “A” from the Reserve Street Bridge area. I know “A” quite well, and don’t find him to be a threat, but I don’t expect anyone who doesn’t know him to feel the same way. This is one area where I hope my experience and knowledge of some houseless individuals can go to better address their situation and alleviate some community worry about certain people.

This hope of mine is one reason why the image that opens this post is of Lee Nelson, the homeless man beat to death by the psycho who is currently sitting in the Missoula County Detention Facility awaiting sentencing, pictured below.

The other houseless contact, and two community contacts, were, all three of ’em, poets. One of the poets, Michael Earl Craig, writes wonderfully weird stuff that I’m quite familiar with, so it was nice to let them know that a fellow poet has become a Gonzo-esque journalist covering the madness of Zoom Town.

The third poet, who I ran across on Monday, has been a traveler for many years. I told him about some of the things I was looking into, and he told me his perspective about the spiritual war he felt was raging in this town and everywhere else. I didn’t disagree.

Now, let’s move along to DAY THREE of this packed report because I’m excited to tell you about the amazing opportunity this abandoned site represents to me. Behold!

Date: April 11th, 2023
Time: 9:00am-10:30am
Location: Bonner and East Broadway
Business contacts: 1
Government/community contacts: 5
Houseless contacts: 1

The video at the end of this fifth AA report will show you, up close, what this abandoned camp-disaster looks like. After doing a closer inspection, my confidence at leading a VOLUNTEER cleanup of this site has shifted. Does it have anything to do with the drug paraphernalia I saw? Yep!

A good portion of the community contacts listed above was me making phone calls, first to University police, then to city police. I learned from UNIVERSITY law enforcement that this site has been referred to city police several times, but so far nothing has happened, so I put in a call to the new Public Information Officer and offered my “crazy glue”, cross-jurisdictional services to find a way to address this particular site.

From my conversation with UM police I also learned about a University parking lot that became a homeless encampment. The price tag to clean that up? $10,000 bucks!

After following up with WGM Group, I headed to Bonner, which would SEEM far enough on this first day after the Johnson Street Shelter closed for anyone to be out there, but sure enough, here’s some dude I found passed out in a red sleeping bag:

I announced myself LOUDLY and a dude who looked to be in his 20’s quickly popped up his head. I told him my name and my purpose and asked if he had been staying at the Johnson Street Shelter before it closed and he said YES!

I didn’t film this interaction because I’m not trying to unnecessarily provoke a negative response. I did, however, tell this guy that I’d like to see people who this community can help, get help, but the DANGEROUS ones? Well, they better watch themselves. I think he got my message.

After that interaction, I stopped by the school in Bonner, just a few hundred yards away, and gave them my contact info. Then I filmed a quick clip by the bus stop this guy probably deposited at before stumbling into the woods to pass out. Nice color of sleeping bag, by the way.

Below are the links to my first four reports, where you can find the quantitative AND qualitative data. If you want to know why Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is a GREAT fund to financially support, click the links and see for yourself what this first phase has done to assess the pre-April 10th situation in some problematic areas in and around Missoula.

AA#1-Travis' Impact Fund First Report!
AA#2-From North Russell to Camper Fire
AA#3-From Kim Williams Trail to North Hellgate
AA#4-From West Broadway Island to Silver Park

For a visual (and visceral) look at what today’s report covers, here is the video:

To continue spreading the word about Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), I attended the Parks and Rec board meeting yesterday after doing the morning assessment (and providing alarm clock services for that houseless dude). I think my brief presentation was well-received, probably because I explained my persistent interest in seeing a public forum happen with our new Sheriff, our County Attorney, and whoever gets the Police Chief nod.

There were also specific individuals/areas to bring attention to, and the general goal of public safety to champion. I have to remember these forums are not like Monday night City Council meetings because questions from the board are allowed, and I don’t think my comments would have been stopped at 3 minutes.

Now that the Johnson Street Shelter has closed for the season, and possibly for good, I’m going to break down the numbers of the preliminary phase of my assessment to show what LESS THAN $500 dollars can produce in terms of an informed perspective on what’s happening in and around Missoula. Here’s the breakdown:

Business contacts: 8
Government/community contacts: 17
Houseless contacts: 3

Cost to Travis' Impact Fund (TIF): $322.55

Click the link above if you want to support my TIF, or go to my about page if you want to provide a general donation. Thank you for the support!

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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2 Responses to AA#5-Houseless Contact Conversations Plus Bonner And East Broadway

  1. John Kevin Hunt says:

    “…make distinctions between houseless people who are dangerous and need to be held accountable, and houseless people who are NOT dangerous, and face just as much risk, if not more, from the dangerous people riding the carousel between the jail, the hospital, and the streets. …”

    YES, that IS perhaps the biggest defect in Missoula’s approach. But how do you plan to hold people accountable when the jail is overcrowded, there is no community mental health system, no free addiction treatment (aside from NA)?

    Moreover, to what degree are people to be held accountable for behaviors they cannot control? You can’t criminalize homelessness, addiction, or mental illness.

    You can arrest for many behaviors that manifest among those cohorts, but without infrastructure for application of such accountability, that’s a fool’s errand.

    And I think you’re mistaken if you believe that locking people up will change them from homeless to housed, from addicts to clean and sober, from psychotic to rational.

    Build more jail cells, and you will fill them up.

    And, with very, very few exceptions, everyone you lock up will eventually get out. The question is whether you want released convicts who are not only still fucked up, but who are more pissed off at civilized society; or, instead, want released convicts who are capable of living among us without being walking time bombs.

    The addicted are victims. The seriously mentally ill are victims. They may have in some cases victimized themselves, but that’s really of no import. Some of them need to be separated from so-called free society; most of those will eventually be released.

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