Poverello Center speaks out against clearing encampments

Missoula, MT –
The Poverello Center is extremely concerned about the ongoing consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are already seeing this impact with the rising number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in our community.

“The tents you are seeing pop up around town are the direct result of people having nowhere else to go,” Executive Director Amy Allison Thompson said. “The Poverello Center’s Homeless Outreach Team is working hard every day to make sure our most vulnerable neighbors who are living outdoors get their basic needs met.”

More individuals are living unsheltered due to the Emergency Winter Shelter closure, full capacity at the Poverello Center every night due to compliance of CDC recommendations on congregate shelter, Missoula’s challenging housing market, and the reversal of the CDC’s memorandum on evictions. A recent report estimates that up to 31,000 individuals are at risk of eviction in Montana right now, making more people susceptible to experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

“We are distressed by the recent actions of the Missoula Police Department to clear Broadway Island without other suitable locations for these individuals to go.” Continues Amy Allison Thompson. “We need to work together to make sure we are addressing the root causes of homelessness like lack of affordable housing, low wages, and limited mental health services instead of targeting those who are the victims of this economic crisis and who live outdoors.”

The Poverello Center hopes that Missoulians will continue supporting our mission to provide food, shelter, help, and hope to our most vulnerable neighbors. We encourage community leaders to work toward long-term solutions instead of short-term fixes that continue to push people experiencing homelessness to the margins.