Missoula County: Cold weather shelters on order for planned homeless camp

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As the search for a location continues, Missoula County has ordered 30 shelters to house the homeless in its next iteration of a safe temporary outdoor space.

The $ 401,000 contract with Pallet includes 30 shelters measuring approximately 100 square feet. They are equipped for cold-weather camping, according to Casey Gannon, the county’s shelter protection coordinator.

“They should arrive in about a month, around mid-November,” Gannon said. “That’s the plan for now. We’re still working on the location and doing all of our substantive work around it.

The city and county of Missoula formed a response team in June to explore a number of housing options around homelessness. The team suggested three specific needs, including a site to accommodate legal camping, a new location for temporary safe outdoor space, and transitional housing.

Already, the team has identified municipal property off the northern reserve to host a new legal camp. The county has applied for a state permit to open and operate the camp, which will replace the illegal Reserve Street camp once it opens.

The second step involves the opening of a new temporary secure outdoor space. Last winter, a collaboration of partners opened a similar site in southern Missoula, which was full most of the time. The new iteration will include all 30 shelters ordered from Pallet, although a location has yet to be determined.

“None of the sites we explore have the basic infrastructure we need to get up and go,” Gannon said. “With this arrival time in November, the shelters will be in storage until we are ready to leave. At least we will have them in hand.

According to the county contract, pallet shelters were found to be “the most economical, most realistic, fastest to deploy, and desired results for individual hard-walled structures.”

“These structures are designed by people with ‘lived experience’ of homelessness,” says the county. “These design considerations are missing from other similar units. Because these units are designed and foldable, broken parts are easily acquired and interchangeable, and on-site placement does not require a foundation.


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