Campaign aiming to find housing for Missoula’s homeless

MISSOULA – A group of Missoula housing agencies are teaming up in a campaign to find “40 Homes in 40 days” for people who are homeless in Missoula.

Julie Barrett and her three kids spent almost two years in limbo, after leaving an unsafe housing situation, before they secured a Shelter Plus Care voucher that ensured they had money to support renting a home.

She spent months and close to $400 in application fees trying to find a property management company or landlord who would accept this federally funded voucher.

“It got to the point where, it was almost like, we’re going to give up. I had to put an extension in and it was around December 15 when we signed our lease for this place,” Barrett said.

She says she had a difficult time getting property management companies or landlords to consider her application, but once she found someone supportive, signing the lease was a huge relief.

“Everybody wrote letters of recommendation, I had a lot, and still, it was like they didn’t even take a look. And I think, at one point, it felt like I was failing my own kids, like I was failing, like what did I do wrong, I just want to start all over. But my landlord gave me that chance,” she said.

Once applicants are qualified for a Shelter Plus Care Voucher — which includes stipulations like being chronically homeless or living with a mental illness or substance use disorder — they are referred to the Missoula Housing Authority who takes them through the process of finding a housing unit.

The Missoula Housing Authority has about 92 of these vouchers in service, but they have the capacity for about 30 more.

“We’ve actually operated the program for decades, and had a lot of successful participants. Right now, we’re just saying hey, we’ve got people on the street, we’ve got people who are eligible for this program, we want to get them housed, let’s do it together,” said Jim McGrath with the Missoula Housing Authority.

The housing authority is working with the Poverello Center and United Way of Missoula to find more units in the city that could be opened up to families just like Julie Barrett’s.

Landlords or property owners who are interested in helping out with the 40 Homes in 40 days effort, contact can contact McGrath at (406) 549-4113.

Reporting by Augusta McDonnell for MTN News