Missoula’s temporary safe outdoor space to find a new home

MISSOULA — Missoula County officials saw an immediate need for more homeless shelter options when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit while the Poverello Center was operating at partial capacity.

the Temporary secure outdoor area (TSOS) that was erected on private property off U.S. Highway 93 south of Missoula a year ago and has been operating under a temporary emergency ever since. But now officials say it has been so successful in helping people access permanent housing that they want it to continue – but in a new location.

“We have a community that we need to serve and help these people and provide a decent place, a sanitary place for these people to live if they’re going to be on the streets,” said Missoula County Shelter operations manager Casey Gannon. .

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The temporary secure outdoor space has been operating along Highway 93 in Missoula since the winter.

Missoula officials have struggled for years to figure out how best to serve our homeless population, “there has definitely been an influx of people on the streets,” Gannon noted.

But now Missoula County believes it is finding the first potential steps toward a solution.

Rescue Mission of Hope had a lot of success at their current location,” Gannon said. “[It’s a] a service-rich place where people are willing to work with services to try to find longer-term accommodation. »

A pair of non-profit organizations – Hope Rescue Mission and United Way of Missoula County – launched the TSOS and managed to get people into permanent homes. And now Missoula County is offering additional support.


MTN news file

The temporary secure outdoor space along US Highway 93 just south of Missoula.

Hope Rescue Mission executive director Jim Hicks told MTN News in an email on Thursday that the TSOS had served nearly 80 people, including 27 in accommodation. He also said 20 people have obtained IDs or are in the process of obtaining IDs, and almost all have taken advantage of on-site case management services.

What’s new at TSOS this winter is additional county support, “we kind of want to build on that success and build a more sustainable model to keep it going,” Gannon said.

The county-funded metal shelters, which look a bit like tiny houses, are almost ready to replace the tents. Gannon said the county has ordered 30 of the 100-square-foot Palette homes, but they’re not quite ready to go up. “We have these shelters in place, I wish I could deploy them.”


Missoula Current

The county hopes to roll out the new hard shelters by early summer, but first, Gannon said, they need better infrastructure, “we kind of want to build on that success and build a more sustainable model to keep it working”, Gannon “The current site does not suit them.”

That’s why Missoula County plans to move the TSOS to a new location, likely on land owned by the city or county.

“We have a good partnership with the neighbors of this site,” noted Gannon. “We hope to take the final steps, and we hope to announce it within the next month.”

Gannon says that once the new site is ready, other partners will be able to step in and help more people move and use the services.

“It will be a kind of multi-agency coordination in terms of how we move them, while maintaining good relationships with the people who live there with our partners who work with them on a regular basis.” – Casey Gannon, Missoula County Shelter Operations Manager

Gannon says Missoula County hopes to deploy the new hardtop shelters by early summer.