Pitching in

As in previous depressions, tent cities are springing up in many cities and towns as more people lose their jobs and homes. Where in Missoula will they live? The tell-tale smoke plumes along the Kim Williams trail all winter would tend to indicate some residents in the pines.

Maybe we will soon see Fort Missoula with temporary housing for the homeless, hopefully inside the buildings and not out in the weather. I don’t mean the refurbished buildings used for a range of non-profits, government agencies, and hospice. Rather, there are many old structures that are used for little other than storing equipment, archives, and old vehicles and while they wouldn’t make glamorous housing they would be out of the wind, sun, and rain. All it would take is a bit of forethought by our governing elders. After all, many of those buildings are owned by the Federal government, the State National Guard, the university, and various agricultural research agencies. In dire times wouldn’t the highest and best use be to take care of the most vulnerable, the homeless?

Or they could use some of the Federal Stimulus dollars for projects like the Garden District, a $6.6 million project of affordable homes off Russell Street, on the old Intermountain Lumber site. These rental units are targeted at:

people who earn less than 40 percent, 50 percent and 60 percent of the area median income. The Missoula Housing Authority’s Jim McGrath said a market study showed Missoula needs some 478 units in that range. “There’s a significant number of folks out there that are in that bracket,” McGrath said.

I suspect there are many more than that. Its going to take a concerted local effort to help those people and there’s no time like the present to get going on that project. What about it Mayor Engen, Governor Schweitzer and County Commissioners Carey, Curtiss, and Landquist? Do you want to be pro-active and get serious now about the homeless problem, or will you be reactive as the tent cities get more and more numerous? Will you help?

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4 Responses

  1. It took me a while to remember – tent towns during the depression were called Hoovervilles

    Guess maybe we can call these Bushvilles?

  2. Or Rush-town?

  3. Rush is probably championing these as good old American ingenuity.

  4. pretty worried about this early summer. might see a lot more “invisible people” showing up on our streets and out in the open. families with kids. really need to get some housing figured out quickly before this really hits.
    think unemployment will double this summer unless construction and obama bucks kick in quick. see a lot of “quiet” out there. the kind that is bad…businesses are just hanging on out there. they close quietly in most cases and people just show up in the unemployment lines. also, many contractors and sub-contractors who don’t qualify for unemployment are really hurting. if home building and remodeling don’t pick up this may, we will see lots of tents being pitched. very worried….

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