Missoula officials are ready to open a new emergency homeless shelter for this winter on Sunday, filling the need to not just keep people warm, but safe from the pandemic.
The shelter is a joint initiative of the City of Missoula and Missoula County, contracting with the Poverello Center to operate the 150 bed shelter in the 28-thousand foot warehouse now known as the "Johnson Street Community Center."
During an open house on Thursday, officials welcomed people to come in and look over the operation, which includes not just a place to stay, but to do so with safety in mind.
The goal was to help restore Missoula's traditional capacity to care for the homeless at The Pov, which has been cut from 100 to 75 people.
"And our capacity because of COVID is reduced to 88. And so, our need this winter is to really think about how can we get as many people inside as possible. But also keep them safe with COVID. And that is what we're facing right now, is balancing safety, getting people out of the elements, but also safety with COVID," said Amy Allison Thompson, Porovello Executive Director.
"All of our elected leaders, the city council, the county commissioners and the mayor all think that it is the right thing to do, to help keep people safe during the winter. And we hear this from people who live in Missoula. They really want it," said City Missoula Communications director, Ginny Merriam.
The center will only be used from November through March.