HELENA — An Emergency Housing Working Group is looking at possibilities for emergency winter housing for Helena’s homeless population and considering options such as at Our Place.
During a meeting Tuesday afternoon, City and County officials discussed the possibility of creating a space for emergency winter housing during the upcoming season.
Community Impact Coordinator at United Way, Jeff Buscher, says they are looking at the options available.
“It's going to get cold here in Helena, MT, and we need to be prepared. Our good friends at God's Love do the best they can. They do a great job of housing and feeding folks, but with the numbers we've seen, we want to be prepared to assist in any way we can as a community,” says Buscher.
Currently, the group is looking at 3 different possible locations: Our Place, the St. John’s building, or a hotel.
This process is only a week in and there is no current solidified plan. They may look at utilizing vouchers and/or low-barrier options and possibly having more than 1 option.
Money used for the creation of such a shelter will be coming from $100,000 in ARPA funding.
Buscher says that there may also be additional services provided at such a location such as mental health services, addiction services, and housing navigation services.
Helena’s homeless population has increased during the last year. The Point In Time survey done in January of 2023 found that there were 164 homeless folks officially documented in the Helena area. When compared to last year’s survey that’s about a 14% increase.
But Buscher says that he estimates the population of those without traditional permanent housing is more than that by roughly 140 additional people.
He added that the need for more shelter is here.
“We need to take steps today so that 10 years from now we're not having this same conversation and fighting this same battle," says Buscher.