Eighteen months ago, the Montana Town of Missoula commissioned a multifaceted study of its homeless as the first step to helping all those who seek housing find homes. On Wednesday of this week, the City unveiled its study and plan: “Reaching Home – Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.”
Homelessness isn’t a unique problem in any community, but each town and city can put its own spin on how to address homelessness. In Missoula, many had the misconception that people come to Missoula homeless. What the City discovered during its study and planning is that the chronically homeless only comprise 25 percent of the City’s homeless.
“Most homeless people became so while living here, reads the Report. “They’re not someone else’s problem. They’re us.”
From that discovery, the City developed a new approach to homelessness in which a “plan builds on current community efforts, but shifts from managing homelessness to ending it. “
The plan calls upon twelve central themes that detail support services, financial requirements, and how to structure the City’s response to homelessness. The plan details, in addition to humanitarian reasons, the fiscal impact of homelessness on the City.
In one year, 514 people identified as homeless made 1,217 trips to a local emergency room at a cost of $3 million.
By preventing homelessness and rapidly responding to it if and when it does occur, the City hopes to improve lives of its residents, its homeless, and save itself money.