In light of recent news regarding the death of a Poverello Center resident and ongoing negative media coverage of Missoula’s homeless population, I write to express my support of the Pov’s work and my unhoused neighbors generally.
I am a resident of Missoula’s Westside and a close neighbor of the Pov. Since the facility relocated and recently relaxed barriers, we have noticed few changes in our area. Most problems we experience are to be expected living in a city. More importantly, we notice the harsh, unforgiving winters. Unhoused folks die in this community every year. This is of greater concern than any increase in trash or police presence.
Everyone deserves safe, affordable housing. The Pov’s decrease in barriers is necessary until the city and county develop a plan for a wet shelter. Approximately 40% of the shelter’s temporary residents have income but struggle to find housing in Missoula due to the competitive market (read: the city’s focus on accommodating wealthy developers, insufficient affordable housing).
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This problem is not one of a few troubled individuals, but one of our sick system failing to meet the basic needs of our neighbors. The responsibility for solving this problem lies with the entire community.