Safe Shelter

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The City of Missoula and Missoula County are working with our community partners to help people experiencing homelessness in our community and to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. Homelessness is complex, and achieving meaningful outcomes requires a creative, multi-faceted approach. City and County government have allocated staff time and funding to address this issue. There are multiple options for our neighbors who need shelter. Click the “subscribe” button on this page to get notifications on our progress, and submit comments via the tools on this page.

Operation Shelter

The City of Missoula and Missoula County

The City of Missoula and Missoula County are working with our community partners to help people experiencing homelessness in our community and to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. Homelessness is complex, and achieving meaningful outcomes requires a creative, multi-faceted approach. City and County government have allocated staff time and funding to address this issue. There are multiple options for our neighbors who need shelter. Click the “subscribe” button on this page to get notifications on our progress, and submit comments via the tools on this page.

Operation Shelter

The City of Missoula and Missoula County created a team to identify and vet potential locations for community members currently camping near Reserve Street and elsewhere in the community. The team presented a report and their recommendations during a July 8 public meeting. The City and County then used funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to hire a temporary staff member to research operational and logistical needs for potential sites, including necessary sanitation, security and staffing.

Authorized Camping Site

The Authorized Camping Site is located on Clark Fork Lane, near Garden City Compost, and opened January 18, 2022. The City, County and local social service providers are working with people camping near the Reserve Street bridge, in parks, and other public places to relocate to the new site or find alternate housing solutions to meet their needs. We are collaborating with our partners who have built trusting relationships with unhoused community members to help ensure the transition is as smooth and compassionate as possible. The Authorized Camping Site has 40 camping spaces, with up to four people allowed in each space. Residents bring their own tents and supplies. The site is equipped with bathrooms, water, fire pits, and trash and recycling services. This site also allows residents to bring their pets.

Temporary Safe Outdoor Space

Missoula’s Temporary Safe Outdoor Space (TSOS) is a safe, healthy, secure, staffed (24/7) environment on private land that serves – with dignity – up to 40 individuals experiencing homelessness who are not accessing existing services or resources. Initially set up in response to the pandemic, the Missoula TSOS continues to offer offer people experiencing homelessness a safe space to live while connecting them to appropriate, sustainable housing resources and providing a safe, reliable location for case managers and service providers to reach their clients.

The site is currently located off Highway 93 just south of Missoula, near Buckhouse Bridge. The TSOS will not remain at its current location long-term. Local government staff are working to relocate it to County-owned land near the detention facility and future Trinity Apartments site. The County has an agreement with a contractor to build out the site, with the goal of opening it later this fall.

FAQ: Missoula Temporary Safe Outdoor Space

Emergency Winter Shelter

The City of Missoula, with support from Missoula County, operates an Emergency Winter Shelter program the in collaboration with the Poverello Center. The Missoula City Council and the County commissioners are committed to preventing winter deaths of residents simply because of lack of shelter. The program runs Nov. 1 through April, as needs dictate. Winter shelter from November 2022 to April 2023 will again be at the City-owned building at 1919 North Ave. W., which served over 500 individuals in the winter of 2021. The shelter has a capacity of up to 135 individuals per night. Being a good neighbor is a top priority for both the City and its contractor the Poverello Center. The City will again contract with private security to help keep the neighborhood safe and has provided a resource list indicating who neighbors can call.

  • Authorized Camping Site Closing

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    The City of Missoula and its partner Missoula County will close its Authorized Camping Site on Clark Fork Lane as of November 16. The City and County will open the Emergency Winter Shelter at the Johnson Street Community Center on October 31. Staff at the camping site and staff from partner agencies will work with residents who are staying at the camping site to find alternatives for shelter, whether at the Emergency Winter Shelter or elsewhere.

    The City and County set up the camping site as an emergency option during the pandemic around the time of prohibition of illegal camping under the Reserve Street Bridge in late winter of last year, excluding the people who were living there. The Authorized Camping Site is not viable for the long term without significant improvements, as it lacks heat, plumbing, sewer connection, air conditioning, adequate staffing and a stable funding source.

    The Emergency Winter Shelter at 1919 North Avenue West, can sleep 135 people and shelter and warm 150 people. It offers a hot meal every day, along with packaged lunches. It is staffed around the clock with professional, trained staff.


  • Neighborhood meeting set for Emergency Winter Shelter

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    The City of Missoula will discuss this year’s Emergency Winter Shelter program at the Franklin to the Fort Neighborhood Council Leadership Team meeting on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m. at the park shelter in Franklin Park. The meeting is set to run until 7:30 p.m. All interested members of the public are invited. City staff members will talk briefly about this year’s project and answer questions.

    This year’s Emergency Winter Shelter will once again be an expanded program at the Johnson Street Community Center at 1919 North Ave. W. This building, owned by the City of Missoula and set for eventual redevelopment, will offer shelter for up to 135 people per night through the winter, Oct. 31 through March.

    The City, along with support from Missoula County, will once again partner with the Poverello Center to operate the Emergency Winter Shelter. An additional part of the program will be professional security for the neighborhood around the shelter. Contracts with the Poverello Center and a security provider will be considered by the City Council on Oct. 12. The City and County will also hold an open house at the shelter on Thursday, Oct. 27, 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

  • Wednesdays with the Mayor Houslessness Discussion

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    Wednesdays with the Mayor is a monthly civic conversation at the Missoula Public Library. In April, the topic was homelessness in Missoula. City staff members Emily Armstrong and Sam Hilliard led the discussion. They work hands-on in the programs the City and its partners have created to work toward solutions for people who are unsheltered in Missoula. Watch the video on MCAT's YouTube channel.

  • Operation Shelter: Missoula County, City Help the Houseless

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    Missoula County Shelter Project Coordinator Casey Gannon and City of Missoula Houseless Initiatives Specialist Emily Armstrong join the commissioners to provide an update on County and City efforts to help unhoused people in our community. Listen to the full Tip of the Spear podcast.

    Finding housing takes time and resources, which can be difficult when you’re constantly living in survival mode. In response to this need, the City and County created the Operation Shelter team to identify and vet potential locations for community members experiencing houselessness to temporarily stay while searching for housing.

    Casey and Emily explain how the City and County have partnered together and are finding creative solutions to a problem that outpaces available resources. While they are focused on the intense immediate need of providing temporary, safe and secure spaces for those camping in the urban area, they are also keeping their eyes on the long-term goal of helping these members of our community find stable housing.

    The conversation explores the key differences between the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space and the Authorized Camping Site, the longevity of these services and next steps as American Rescue Plan Act funding begins to dissipate. It’s a balance of infrastructure, systems, programs and provider support, and a community that is willing to recognize these people, living and working among us, also consider Missoula home, even if they don’t have a house of their own.

  • Emergency Winter Shelter Closed April 18

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    Missoula’s Emergency Winter Shelter at Johnson Street and North Avenue closed for the season on April 18.

    The number of residents without houses has steadily increased nationwide since 2018, with the rate of unsheltered houseless individuals increasing sharply. Missoula’s rates of houselessness have mirrored those national trends. The Emergency Winter Shelter, a project of the City of Missoula with help from Missoula County and the Human Resource Council along with contracted staffing and operation from the Poverello Center, has offered indoor shelter for up to 150 people per night since it opened Nov. 1. It aims to provide safe shelter from cold weather through Missoula’s harsh winter months. Missoula saw no cold-weather-related deaths among people living without shelter this winter. As of Feb. 28, the shelter had served 567 individuals.

    Shelter for people needing it continues to be a challenge in our valley. Missoula’s multi-agency response provides several options for shelter and camping, but City and County leadership and staff continue to work to address the root causes of homelessness, including the need for more behavioral health and addiction treatment, and to explore options to fund solutions.


  • Learn More and Comment on Emergency Winter Shelter

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    City staff will take a contract with the Poverello Center for operation of the Emergency Winter Shelter at Johnson Street to the Missoula City Council on Oct. 6, where it will be discussed in the Administration and Finance Committee. The City Council will take the contract under final consideration at their Oct. 18 meeting. There will be a virtual neighborhood meeting on Oct. 12, and we'll add participation details as soon as they are available. Finally, there will be an open house at the Johnson Street Community Center, 1919 North Ave. W., Oct. 28 from 4-7 p.m., so residents can view the facility. The shelter will begin operations in November. You can also share your comments, questions, and ideas on this page.

  • Public Meeting September 16

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    County staff will present an update on Operation Shelter to the county commissioners during their administrative public meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 16. The update will focus on the authorized camping site located off Clark Fork Lane in west Missoula. This site will serve as a an alternative to unauthorized camping below the Reserve Street Bridge and other areas of the community.

    The authorized camping site will provide minimal services. Services will include trash removal, bathrooms and security, and the site also will be fenced. Costs will be paid with federal funding the County and City received through the American Rescue Plan Act and other federal programs. Staff will provide more details on logistics and operations of the site during Thursday’s update.

    Staff are still working on an alternative location for the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space that is currently located south of Missoula near Buckhouse Bridge. Staff will present details on a proposal for that at a later date.

    Thursday's meeting will be held in the Sophie Moiese Room of the Missoula County Courthouse Annex, and participants will also have the option to join remotely via Microsoft Teams.

    Microsoft Teams meeting
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    Join with a video conferencing device 623215837@t.plcm.vc
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Page last updated: 07 Nov 2022, 11:35 AM