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Our Place Unveils "Faces of Our Unsheltered Neighbors"

Faces of Our Unsheltered Neighbors
Posted at 8:59 AM, Dec 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 12:45:21-05

HELENA — On Tuesday night, Our Place held an event to educate people on homelessness by visualizing the “Faces of Our Unsheltered Neighbors” with a photography exhibit.

Street Outreach Coordinator for Our Place Mark Nay said, “it’s really easy to have an opinion on why a person may be unsheltered and oftentimes what you’ll hear is substance use or mental health but those are really limited views on why a person may be experiencing homelessness in their life.”

The exhibit was a partnership with Plymouth Congregational Church-UCC and United Way of Lewis and Clark Area. The Town Pump Charitable Foundation provided financial support.

The ten portraits were shot by a local photographer, Ed Field, and featured a brief excerpt about the individuals.

“It was a real eye-opener as to how human these people are. They’re just like you and I except they had a couple bad days and now they are in a situation that they don’t want to be in,” Field said.

The open house was held one night before a zoning commission meeting where the city will consider a conditional use permit for an overnight Emergency Women’s Shelter.

The proposed facility would be located adjacent to Our Place off of North Last Chance Gulch.

Location of Our Place Emergency Women Shelter

It would be a low-barrier shelter where women would not have to be sober, and would not need to have mental health or addiction treatment plans. They also would not have to agree to participate in programs in exchange for housing or other resources.

The 4,700 square-foot shelter would have 25 beds, be open between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. and operate until May 1st.

Executive Director of Good Samaritan, Theresa Ortega said that the drafted budget for the facility would be over $100,000.

The staff advocating for the unsheltered say that each portrait subject personally found solace at our place.

Nay said, “Having experienced homelessness in my own life, I can relate to some of the struggles that they have going on in their lives. When I look at them now, as I’ve really gotten to know them, I really see these people as friends.

The exhibit is available for loan at no cost, and you can find where to reserve a date by visiting our website.