MISSOULA – Every night, around 300 people camp in Missoula.
This campsite can be seen in the sleeping bags hidden next to buildings and tents lining various areas of the city. For the most part, this campsite takes the place of traditional accommodation.
The city and county of Missoula have pledged 400 affordable and assisted housing units to address some of the area’s housing and homelessness issues. The units, however, are still under construction.
In the meantime, licensed campsites and temporary safe outdoor spaces serve as an immediate and temporary solution to a long-term problem.
âIdeally, people will have a little more support when they live outside until they find suitable housing,â said Laurie Francis, Executive Director of Partnership Health.
In Missoula, where compassion keeps the community afloat, providing a safe and livable space for homeless people is only the first step.
Soon a new resource to complement existing services – and it is funded by the City and County of Missoula. The name is in the works, but so far Francis has called it âCare on the Moveâ.
âWhat ‘Care on the Move’ will do, and I think it’s incredibly cool, is that we’ll be working with the Poverello Center, Homeword, the family medicine residency, and the county and city to pool our better skills and resources. Francis said. âThe job of the partnership is to coordinate these five or six entities so that every day, in one or another of these places, we are available to help people. “
This mobile healthcare team is intended to provide staff with the capacity, expertise and trained providers to meet people where they are.
âThese people are in the driver’s seat and we are the guests in the passenger seat,â Francis said.
This initiative is still in the early stages of development and will take off once more concrete plans are made for the licensed Missoula campsite and other emergency shelters.