Reserve Street Encampment

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Our community members contact us with concerns about people living outdoors. Many of the comments are about the encampment under the Reserve Street Bridge. This page will address what the City, County, and community partners have done so far, what we will be doing in the next few years, and why the problem is more visible this year. We also want to hear your ideas for solving these problems.

What We’re Doing

Like other U.S. communities, Missoula developed a 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, based on a federal model. Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, adopted in 2012

Our community members contact us with concerns about people living outdoors. Many of the comments are about the encampment under the Reserve Street Bridge. This page will address what the City, County, and community partners have done so far, what we will be doing in the next few years, and why the problem is more visible this year. We also want to hear your ideas for solving these problems.

What We’re Doing

Like other U.S. communities, Missoula developed a 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, based on a federal model. Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, adopted in 2012, laid out a road map to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time-only. It takes a Housing First approach, based on evidence that housing is the first solution to homelessness. In 2017, the plan incorporated a newly designed Missoula Coordinated Entry System, which aims to prevent and divert households from entering the homeless system, reduces duplication of services, provides data to improve outcomes and results in prioritizing limited housing resources. It saves lives, and it saves money.

Where We’re Going

In the next three years, we are engaging in an aggressive three-phase Housing First approach to decrease the number of people living outdoors.

Phase One

In phase one, currently underway, we are partnering with our health centers, hospital systems, our shelter providers and our criminal justice system to implement a Frequent Utilizer System Engagement (FUSE) model. This proven strategy decreases both the human and economic costs that unsheltered homelessness have on a community. We are also working with the Coordinated Outreach Teams, like the Poverello Center Homeless Outreach Teams and Hope Rescue Mission, to provide dedicated outreach to individuals living outdoors and in encampments and providing resources to help with regular trash collection and clean-up work.

Phase Two

In phase two, the Missoula Housing Authority will dedicate 12 homes in the Cornerstone Apartments to FUSE participants – those who have been living without a home for a long time and who regularly cycle among our shelter systems, our emergency rooms and our jails. We will work with the Missoula Housing Authority to make sure tenants have the support they need to be successful. These homes will be ready to welcome new tenants in late fall or early winter 2020.

Phase Three

In phase three, we are supporting the construction of the Trinity Apartments, a collaboration among the Missoula Housing Authority, Homeword and BlueLine Development. The Trinity Apartments will provide more than 200 units of permanently affordable homes, 30 of which will be dedicated as supportive housing for FUSE participants.

Alongside these efforts, which are dedicated to serving individuals with the highest barriers, we are supporting the construction of 235 permanently affordable homes through the Villagio Apartments and the Skyview Apartments, many of which will provide safe and secure housing to individuals living in, or at risk of becoming, homeless. These homes will be ready to welcome new tenants in the next two years.

By working on a system-wide approach through the Missoula Coordinated Entry System and providing affordable homes, our goal is to make sure homelessness is as brief as possible and is a one-time event. Missoula has seen a noticeable improvement in helping many of the homeless people who were visible downtown transition into a stable living environment.

  • Reaching Home Public Update on May 11, 2021

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    Reaching Home: Missoula's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. Annual Update May 11, 2021 - 3:00PM-5:00PM


    Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness provides community update

    Reaching Home, a program of Community Planning, Development & Innovation, will host a public update on the status of Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. The update will take place by Zoom on Tuesday, May 11 from 3pm-5pm. Program Manager Emily Armstrong will present an update on the 10-Year Plan and other relevant homelessness initiatives, followed by a moderated panel of representatives from the homelessness and housing system.

    About Reaching Home: The Reaching Home Program leads Missoula’s efforts addressing homelessness. In 2011, the City of Missoula and Missoula County combined resources to develop Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. The shared belief that housing is the only solution to homelessness remains the driving force behind these efforts to make homelessness in Missoula rare, brief, and one-time only.


    You can join the event by using the link below:

    When: May 11, 2021 03:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

    Topic: Reaching Home Update

    Please click the link below to join the webinar:

    https://ci-missoula-mt.zoom.us/j/87296158265?pwd=SUJyRWhJeEdZNm43YTYyOW0wVXVvZz09

    Passcode: 728274
    Or One tap mobile : US: +12532158782,,87296158265# or +12133388477,,87296158265#

    Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
    US: +1 253 215 8782 or +1 213 338 8477 or +1 267 831 0333

    Webinar ID: 872 9615 8265
    International numbers available: https://ci-missoula-mt.zoom.us/u/kw0oD9MJ3



  • Overview of Current City Efforts

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    The City of Missoula has a number of initiatives in place and continuous efforts at work to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time-only. Below is an overview of the City's current efforts:

    • The Missoula Coordinated Entry System (MCES) was created in 2017 in an effort to better utilize the array of homelessness and housing resources throughout Missoula. There are currently 38 agencies throughout Missoula signed on to this system as either an access points or partner agency responsible for directly serving or providing supportive services to our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Our two advertised access points are currently 2-1-1 and the Poverello Center. Representatives from all of the agencies correspond regularly to coordinate services for individuals entering the system and ensure the resources are going to community members with the greatest need. Part of MCES is the By-Name-List, which is an identified list of the individuals in Missoula experiencing homeless. Dozens of case workers from across the City come together on a weekly basis to review this list and plan case coordination for each of these people individually. It’s one of the most amazing parts of our system run by some really incredible case workers.


    • The FUSE program, which is part of MCES and managed by a representative at Partnership Health Center. FUSE stands for Frequent Users of Systems Engagement and is a program to provide targeted support to our community members who are most frequently using crisis services (i.e. shelters, jail, hospitals). This targeted support offers these individuals Permanent Supportive Housing and a level of stability not previously known, ultimately freeing up those crisis services for better utilization by the larger Missoula community.


    • The Poverello Center has a Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) that spends their time doing outreach across the City. They visit various places frequented by people experiencing homelessness to provide 1-on-1 support, connection to the Missoula Coordinated Entry System, and connection to resources. HOT is part of larger coalition of outreach teams from various agencies across the City who do similar work called the Coordinated Outreach Team (COT). They all coordinate their efforts to minimize duplication and maximize their reach.


    • The YWCA just opened the new YWCA Meadowlark Family Housing and Domestic Violence Shelter Facility in May 2021. The brand new shelter facility, created in partnership with Missoula Interfaith Collaborative’s Family Promise Program, significantly expands our community’s ability to support families who are houseless and those impacted by domestic violence. The 30,000-square-foot building has 38 private sleeping rooms, 178 beds, 50 bathrooms, shared living and dining areas, outdoor youth play spaces, health care and legal clinics, and offices for supportive services. The facility’s three wings—YWCA’s program center, YWCA’s domestic violence shelter, and Missoula Family Housing Center—offer a significant resource to Missoula in ensuring that there is access to dignified, safe housing for families who need it most.
    • Hope Rescue Mission, United Way, and Missoula County are also involved in creating and operating the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space (TSOS), which has proven its importance in less than 4 months. This site has housed around 25 people consistently with an ongoing waitlist and provides a high-level of case management and health services to residents. As of early April 2021, we’ve already seen 7 individuals transition to housing or be otherwise diverted from homelessness and multiple others receive housing approval, vouchers, and/or emergency housing. We’ve also seen 4 individuals gain employment since moving to the TSOS and one get accepted into Univ. of Montana, and these are just of few of the many successes.


    • Missoula also opened a Non-Congregate Shelter (NCS) in response to COVID-19, which is a large part of the reason that our shelters have been able to operate successfully during the pandemic. The NCS is intended to provide short-term shelter for individuals who need a safe space to quarantine and isolate as a result of either a) testing positive for COVID-19, or b) being identified as a close contact. It also serves individuals who are identified as high-risk for COVID-19 and don’t have a safe place to isolate. The NCS has served upwards of 279 unique individuals since opening, and has placed at least 7 people into housing as of early April 2021.


    • The Reaching Home staff at the City are also engaged in a number of efforts to continue understanding the gaps in our homelessness and housing system and devise sustainable solutions. Reaching Home staff are spending time visiting our shelters and outdoor spaces to build relationships with residents and understand what kind of services they most need so that solutions can be properly targeted. Reaching Home is also in process of developing: a) a leadership roundtable of leaders throughout the City including City Council and County Commissioners to support actionable items related to homelessness, and b) an advisory group of lived experience experts who can guide our homelessness efforts from a place of expertise having been homeless in Missoula and experiencing our system first-hand.


    • Finally, we’re looking ahead to the development of the Villagio and Trinity, both of which will offer affordable rental housing to Missoulians making at or below 60% of the area median income. Trinity will also have a Navigation Center intended to provide supportive services and connection to the Missoula Coordinated Entry System for neighbors experiencing homelessness, as well as 30 Permanent Supportive Housing units to house community members with the greatest need, many of whom are part of the FUSE program.
  • Temporary Safe Outdoor Space Opens

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    To provide another space for folks experiencing homelessness, a temporary safe outdoor space has been opened in Missoula County. Missoula’s Temporary Safe Outdoor Space is a safe, healthy, secure, staffed (24/7) environment on private land that will serve – with dignity – approximately 40 people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic who are not accessing existing services or resources. A goal of Missoula TSOS is to offer people experiencing homelessness a safe space during the pandemic and link them to appropriate, sustainable housing. It is slated to open in early December. You can learn more at the Missoula County website here.

  • People Living Outdoors During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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    Missoula, along with the entire nation, is dealing with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects on people experiencing homelessness in our community are similar to those around the country. Our local homeless shelter provider has instituted a night shelter cap in accordance with social distancing and bed spacing recommendations from federal health authorities. This resulted in a temporary loss of more than 75 shelter beds in our community and a subsequent increase in the number of people living outdoors, a number we have seen steadily increase since late January. More people have growing concern about contracting COVID-19 while staying in a crowded communal shelter environment, so they instead make do with outdoor encampments.

    This summer, 80 to 100 people have lived outdoors near the Reserve Street Bridge. They are without resources to rent housing. Workers and volunteers connected to our Coordinated Outreach Team, like the Poverello Center’s Homeless Outreach Teams and Hope Rescue Mission, visit often, working to connect people with services and bring them into housing. Missoula’s tight supply of housing and escalating prices make this a challenge.

    People live outdoors in other locations around the valley, but they are camping in less visible places. Missoula’s Homeless Management Information System helps us track trends, make data-driven decisions and evaluate our success. The detailed information the system collects also helps address health, behavioral health, social and housing needs. Like cities around the country and the state of Montana, we gather information through the annual point-in-time survey. That provides a clear picture of homelessness in our region. On any given day in the Missoula region, at least 350 people are homeless. Some are uncomfortably visible, sleeping on sidewalks or the Courthouse lawn and living in encampments. As of January 2019, 20 percent of people without homes in Missoula were unsheltered. That means 74 men, women and children were living outdoors. That number fluctuates. At its peak, in 2015, more than 200 individuals were living outdoors in our community. At its low, in 2018, the number was about 60.