Week In Review: June 5-9

by Travis Mateer

The most critical issue facing Missoula’s elected leaders and non-profit influencers this summer is homelessness and the “urban camping” that has exploded this year across parks and along the river.

While there’s a huge need for creative thinking and accurate information, the decline of local media, and the exertion of narrative control by those who fear transparency, is limiting the robustness of the conversation we, as a community, need to have about this difficult issue.

The image above shows that addressing health and safety hazards is something Parks and Rec ALREADY had the ability to do before the emergency ordinance that’s upsetting the virtue-signalers and non-profit failures, like Susan Hay Patrick (SHP) of United Way.

I’m glad SHP is audaciously bashing this ordinance, especially considering it was SHP who totally botched oversight of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness during the time the plan was “housed” at United Way. From the first link:

The ordinance came after complaints of increased houseless people in city parks following the closure of the Johnson Street Winter Shelter on April 10, 2023. Other shelters in Missoula have little availability, forcing those staying at Johnson Street to flock to the parks.

“This closure of the winter shelter really has demonstrated that there is a need, post COVID, for year-round emergency shelter,” says United Way of Missoula County CEO Susan Hay Patrick.

Hay Patrick recognizes that camping in city parks can pose an issue, citing the damage to the environment and possible health issues for those staying in tents. Still, this ordinance is not the solution in her mind.

“Moving people is not the answer to the problem, just like ignoring homelessness does not solve homelessness,” she says. “So I think it’s a big dilemma for our community right now. And that’s why we need year-round shelter. And I think the majority of council members understand that, and I want our community to understand it.”

United Way, along with eight other organizations, including the Missoula YWCA and Hope Rescue Mission, have sponsored a public letter urging the city council to allocate funding for a year-round emergency shelter. Hay Patrick says this will likely be in the same building as the Johnson Street Shelter.

I’m not sure SHP got the memo, but the Mayor is getting down and dirty by declaring an EMERGENCY, thus allowing the esoteric mill-mechanism to target your pocketbook.

From the link (emphasis mine):

The City of Missoula on Friday declared an emergency surrounding homelessness and its lack of shelter space, enabling it to levy two emergency mills to help fund year-round shelter at the Johnson Street shelter.

Officials estimated the extra mills would generate around $500,000 and cost the average homeowner about $10 in all. But when coupled with the city’s remaining ARPA funds, the county and local partners, it should be enough to operate the Johnson Street shelter for the remainder of the year.

When this week in review posts, it will be summer for Missoula’s school kids and the camps for many will start on Monday. I wonder how quickly the doors will open at Johnson Street? And I wonder how this will be received by those in the parks and along the river who seemed to think that the 9th circuit court decision meant anything goes?

When I say anything goes, I’m mostly referring to the rampant drug abuse and criminal activity that comes along with it. Did our placeholder Mayor reference drugs in his declaration? Not that the Missoula Current reported.

“There’s an increasing number of folks living without shelter, and that’s increasing in our public spaces,” Hess said. “This is a statewide problem, it’s a national problem, and it’s a problem without an immediate and easy solution.”

While a number of factors have contributed to the sharp increase in Montana’s homeless population and urban encampments, Hess attributed much of it to the cost of housing across the West. He also blamed the Legislature for cutting mental health case management in 2017, setting the stage for thousands of people to slip into homelessness.

Problems, problems, problems. And thanks to our atrocious media landscape, not even well-defined problems!

I’m doing what I can to change some of that, and you can help by supporting Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), or making a donation at my about page.

Thanks for reading/listening, and stay tuned for Monday’s post about Republicans fighting with themselves as Rome burns!

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 Week In Review: June 5-9

  1. Mrs Stitch says:

    A familiar sounding story from our Model City:

    Actually the river trail here has been pretty good since the last sweep. I may go back to walking again.

  2. Pingback: Mayoral Candidate Shawn Knopp’s Homelessness Plan: Bring Back The Thunderdome? | Zoom Chron Blog

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