Media tour Missoula’s new ‘permitted campsite’ near Walmart
A new “authorized campsite” has been created by Missoula City and County officials that will provide a safe place for those who previously camped in the “urban wilderness” of Missoula.
The site, located at Concrete Way and Clark Fork Lane near the Super Walmart off Mullan Road, contains 36 unimproved campsites which will have 24/7 security, portable toilets and secure fencing.
Mayor John Engen said the permitted camping is a first step toward finding homes for Missoula’s homeless population.
“Thank you for being here at our sanctioned campsite,” Mayor Engen began. “I am here with my colleagues from the Missoula County Board of Commissioners and am grateful for their presence and support. All of this work that we do, along with many staff and our partners from various agencies who are all working together to solve what in many communities seems like an intractable problem, namely managing the plight of the homeless “.
Engen said authorized camping is a safe place where homeless people can get services and not break the law by camping in the urban wilderness.
“Placing a sanctioned camp is a difficult business,” he said. “But as we looked at the pitches, what we do know is that we own this particular land first. It is relatively convenient for people who are homeless and looking for services. It’s a bit off the beaten path, especially when it comes to residential neighborhoods, and we think it creates a safe opportunity for people to live in and start having access to the resources they need to be housed in. permanently, which is our objective here. ”
County Commissioner Josh Slotnick said the Montana Department of Transportation will soon officially close the Reserve Street homeless camp, and this sanctioned campground is a safe and logical alternative.
“So right now we have people camping illegally under the Reserve Street Bridge and other places around the county, people camping in the urban wilderness,” Commissioner Slotnick said. “Just living in such a place causes environmental degradation. Moreover, the very fact of living in such a place makes a person very insecure and vulnerable. Having people come to camp here in a safe place with sanitary facilities helps to alleviate both of these issues.
Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said “doing nothing is not an option”.
“Is it without risk or challenges? Absolutely not,” Strohmaier said. “But doing nothing is not an option. It was a big task to get to this point, but it’s iconic for us to try something and do something. And I’m very proud that we are where we are today. We will monitor how it goes. We want to hear from neighbors and the public.”
Also in attendance were Casey Gannon, Missoula County Shelter Coordinator; Bruce Bender, Municipal Facilities Consultant, and Emily Armstrong, Manager of City Reaching Home.
The site will be open this month and campers will provide their own tents and shelters.
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