BUTTE -Winter came early and Butte cannot wait any longer to establish a homeless shelter.
“If there isn’t a shelter a place for people to stay for this winter, lives could be lost,” said Action Inc. CEO Margie Seccomb.
Action Inc. is hustling this week to open a temporary homeless shelter in the building that the agency owns on N. Main Street that has been vacant for the past three years. The agency is working to get the building up to specs and hire staff.
“We’re working with the Montana Department of Commerce to see if there’s a way to get emergency funds into the community to help pay for the cost of this, but we certainly will be relying on donations as well. We have no dedicated funding for this program,” Seccomb said.
The agency estimates that as many as 30 people are living homeless in Butte and much more are at risk of losing shelter. The building will be used as a shelter until May to help those get through the cold months.
“We have been so busy looking to hire staff, volunteers coming to clean, making sure people are off the street at the same time, so it’s been a crazy week,” according to Action Inc. staff member Cassie O’Leary.
Each of the dorm rooms has a bed and mattresses to be delivered this week.
Organizers say the point of the shelter is to get temporary relief from the cold because officials want to move the clients out of the building and into more permanent housing as soon as possible.
“Our idea is to have people stay there as briefly as possible, so the minute they walk in the door we’ll be working on housing plans,” Seccomb said.
The Butte Rescue Mission’s homeless shelter on East Second Street was closed earlier this year due to code violations. The mission has not been able to find a new location because many business owners and residents don’t want a shelter in their neighborhood. Action Inc. officials know some people may object to the building being used as a shelter, but there is no choice.
“Saving lives trumps everything, so I want to ask all of us to please work together and get through this and have it be a successful thing for these seven months,” Seccomb said.
MTN’s John Emeigh