As The Biden Administration Pretends To Address Homelessness, MRA Hands $55,000 To The Poverello Center

by Travis Mateer

Over the last week, the ineptitude of the Biden administration claims to be mobilizing in order to address homelessness by targeting six geographic areas across the country. Here’s how one local news source in Seattle reported on this spurious federal effort (emphasis mine):

The Biden Administration unveiled a new initiative on Thursday to partner with six places — including Seattle — to address the ongoing homelessness crisis.

Seattle will be joined by Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and the state of California. Labeled the “All INside” initiative, it will embed a federal official in each locale to “accelerate locally-driven strategies and enact system-level changes to reduce unsheltered homelessness.” Federal teams will also work to identify funding streams, while philanthropic and private sector organizations step in to help as well.

The overarching goal of the White House is to reduce homelessness by 25% by January 2025.

Why am I cynical? Because I’ve heard this shit before, and everyone within the Homeless Industrial Complex REALLY WANTS you to think that ending homelessness is as simple as just providing some housing with this new ingredient of “support”.

Here in Missoula, the impact of Tax Increment Financing on property taxes–which leads to MORE EXPENSIVE housing, including for renters–is continuing to be strategically ignored after SB 523 was tabled during the legislative dumpster fire last month. A recent comment by JC on this post illuminates what Mayor Hess can only allude to in a recent article about housing and homelessness:

This comment makes what comes next even more galling, because JC is absolutely right. The TIF mechanism absolutely DOES drain the General Fund by diverting the incremental increases in tax value within Urban Renewal Districts to the Missoula Redevelopment Agency so that critical projects for Missoula–like new windows for a Mexican restaurant and a building facelift for the Radius Gallery–can be greased with public dollars.

So, what is the justification for giving $55,000 of public TIF dollars to a homeless shelter? I bet Martin Kidston’s Missoula Current will explain it to us.

From the link:

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s board of commissioners on Thursday agreed to reimburse the city $55,000 for the cost of turning an old Midtown building into the Emergency Winter Shelter.

The city-owned facility, located off Johnson Street, needed a number of improvements before it could serve as a shelter, including a fire system and an air exchange unit, among other things.

Now, with little money available to address future shelter needs, the city is looking for funding wherever it can. The TIF revenue approved Thursday will provide some funding from Urban Renewal District III.

“The use of TIF funds for this purpose is allowable since this is a publicly owned building,” said MRA Director Ellen Buchanan. “It’s important for the city to preserve as much funding as possible to continue to support operations for those in our community who are without housing or in crisis.”

Would it be unfair of me to call this money a bribe? Or hush money? Because if that would be an unfair characterization, I’ll certainly refrain from making it.

At City Council on Monday, after Mayor Hess discussed the decorum rules (and after approving the minutes was postponed) I made a subdued comment about the passing of Glen Harley Stephens. The result of my road trip to search for next of kin will be the subject of Wednesday’s post.

Later in the meeting, after I left, the topic of urban camping came up and all the members of Council made comments about how much they are hearing from the constituents. This will be the focus of upcoming committee work on Wednesday, so expect a more robust report here on Thursday.

If you appreciate this content I hope YOU won’t refrain (like I’m trying to do at Council) from supporting my efforts, which you with Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), or by making a donation at my about page. I SO MUCH appreciate the donations rolling in.

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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3 Responses to As The Biden Administration Pretends To Address Homelessness, MRA Hands $55,000 To The Poverello Center

  1. John Kevin Hunt says:

    I was really sorry to hear about Harley; as I told you last evening, I know you had a close connection with him. I’m glad you wrnt to Salmom and that you learned more of his personsl story from others who knew him. Now, on to Wednesday’s main agenda item:

    Apparently the City Attorney’s office has decided that it’s OK for the Council to move to some of the Ninth Circuit’s “still in your toolbox” remedial measures, which that court listed nonexclusively in dicta, in its post-Martin v. Boise (2019) decision in Blake v. Grant’s Pass (July, 2020). I say this after reading the referral documents for the City’s Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting. I say this even though I didn’t see the Blake caae mentioned in the referral info forrwarded to me.

    Here’s a link to the Blake case, which I strongly recommend reading. The first section dealing with the vagaries of motions for summary judgment can be skipped initially (but I recommend going back and reading it because it details the contents of affidavits submitted by the homeless plaintiffs in opposition to defendant’ City of Grant’s Pass’s motion for summary judgment (which is a request that the court grant judgment to the party moving for summary judgment, without trial, on grounds that no facts are in dispute and the moving party is entitled to win as a matter of law):

    The last part of the decision lists examples of permissible city actions in the wake of Martin v. Boise, after a lengthy discussion about the magnitude of homelessness and the composition of that population, apparently citing to data supplied in a friend of the.court (“amicus”) brief submitted by homeless advocates.

    The emergency ordinance to be considered by COW permits the city to regulate types and duraton of temporary structures in public parks, as well aa prohibitions on depositing human waste and rubbish other than in approved containers. Those are regulations the Blake ruling says would be permissible. Of course. the devil is in the detsils, i.e., the manner in which such ordinances are enforced.

    Re. Ellen Buchanan’s assertion that TIF is appropriate for “public buildings” — that is contrary to the premises behind TIF, which entail increment from the project’s increased taxable value paying back the subsidy. Public buildings are not assessed property tax! TIF is NOT appropriate for public buildings.

  2. Carol says:

    Were we any better off when they were camping under the Reserve street bridge? I was living out a ways and didn’t how much camping was going on in town.

    What lovely infrastructure they built for these guys to pitch their tents on! Why, I can remember when the calif bridge was new and untagged.

    Btw wheelchair guy wasn’t anywhere to be seen this morning.

  3. Eric says:

    Congrats Travis – KTVQ in Billings actually has a story about the homeless in Missoula. I think you are poking the bear!

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