Missoula’s homeless situation has gotten a lot worse recently.
Neither the city or the county is really looking at the root causes of this. Instead, they just throw money at the problem.
This is alright, because it’s not ‘their’ money - it comes from the feds. They view it as free money, to do with as they wish. Mostly, it’s throwing it at the homeless problem, hoping it goes away. Alas, every week it gets worse.
Over at RD, they look into the public grant angle that’s going to supply “$65,000 to fund a mental health coordinator at Partnership Health Center, and $66,000 for an outreach coordinator at the Western Montana Mental Health Center,” as well as another $80,000 to “provide the data analyst needed to track Missoula’s fledgling Crisis Intervention Team.”
The latter will most likely be tasked with things such as cleaning up the recent Pov-parking-lot homeless camp, one that city officials could only get rid of with bribes, both those living in it, as well as those living in the more regal indoors settings of the Pov.
I was interested in these grants, and specifically who’s supplying them. Where’s this money coming from?
Well, from taxpayers.
The $211,000 in grant money that Missoula is getting to help deal with its self-created homeless crisis is coming from the DPHHS.
In total, the DPHHS has budgeted over $154 million for grants for the current biennium, according to the state’s most recent budget. That’s a lot of money from hardworking taxpayers that’s just given away.
Here in Missoula, we redistribute that taxpayer money to create new government positions, ones that didn’t exist before but will now likely last for a full-career span of 25 years, and likely longer as someone else takes over. In other words, they’ll never go away.
At some point, DPHHS will stop giving Missoula money to fund these positions, and Missoula taxpayers will have to pick up the tab. That means the budget deficit will get worse, taxes will have to be increased to make up for that loss, and housing prices will increase as a result, effectively making the homeless situation even worse, necessitating the need for money ‘grant-bailouts’ from either the state or the feds.
It’s a vicious cycle, and one Missoula shows no signs of moving away from. In fact, they love it.
Currently, the city is in talks with the Pov to figure out how to provide security for Pov, considering they have tons of human shit, garbage, and needles cluttering the area, not to mention open-air drug sales and use. The area is seeing over 2 calls to police each day.
According to NBC Montana, the cost of the security guards for the Pov will run $20,000 to $25,000 a month, though the feds will foot the bill for the first month with the covid relief money we’ve already received (meaning your grandkids pay the bill in their future taxes).
So we get the first month free, but considering the problems at the Pov won’t go away permanently, and will likely get worse as we near spring and summer next year, we’ll have to keep these security guards all the time.
That’ll cost us anywhere from $240,000 to $300,000 a year.
But we’re not done, not even close.
The soon-to-be-opening Johnson Street Warming Shelter will cost the city $315,000 of it’s covid money, and the county will chip-in $100,000 of it’s share. The shelter will also require an additional $65,000 in expenses to get it ready, plus $538,000 just to pay the dozens of staffers that’ll cater to the 150 residents staying there.
So if we add up the Pov security, the Johnson Street shelter, and add in a potential six months-worth of security at that latter shelter, we get a total of $765,000.
That’s gonna take quite a chunk out of that covid money the city has.
The city got $14.2 million for its share of covid-relief money under the American Rescue Plan. That might sound like a lot, but it’ll go quick. I wonder how much has been spent already...half...more? I hope local reporters start asking this. I suspect the city doesn’t want us to know.
Missoula officials tasked with tackling the city’s homeless problem really have no idea what to do.
In the recent article about the Johnson Street shelter, their only real solution is to wait until November 2022 when the ‘affordable housing’ projects Trinity and Villagio open.
This is incredibly wishful thinking from bureaucrats that desperately want to avoid all blame for the problem they’re tasked with solving. They just want to keep their jobs.
Neither the Trinity nor the Villagio 'affordable housing' projects are set to be done until over a year from now, and with the supply chain crunch, I'm sure there'll be delays, many of them.
The latter only has room for 32 vouchers, which might mean 10% of our homeless population can use them. The Trinity will have 202 rooms, but those will be eaten up so quickly by people making $36,000-$52,000, which the apartments have been price-set to accommodate.
By the time both are built, our homeless population will be at least 50% higher than it is now, effectively negating any effect of those. A much more timely idea would be to open up the empty Aber Hall to the responsible homeless. It'd give them a place to stay and teach the out-of-state liberals a lot about the disadvantaged.
Yeah...like that’ll ever happen.
On top of this we have the Flynn Lane homeless camp nearing completion near the now-illegal Reserve Street Homeless Camp. In addition, the county is looking for two more sites for outdoor tent cities.
Folks, the situation has gotten incredibly worse in the span of just a few months, and it shows no sign of slowing down.
Many blame high housing prices, lack of good jobs, and low rental vacancy rates for the growing homeless problems. Others blame drugs and alcohol and young people that don’t want to work. Another argument is that we have people coming here from all over the country to enjoy the very generous handouts we give to homeless people.
I think Missoula is experiencing all of this, though it’s awfully hard to put a percentage on each of these groups to gauge which is the real issue.
What’s the use of cleaning the blood up off the floor if the wound’s still gushing?
It’s clear to me that Missoula is focusing more on the symptoms, not the problem. That’s why I know it’ll just keep getting worse. Right now, Missoula officials are alright with this. They have a lot of federal money to throw at the problem.
But one day they won’t.
Then, instead of your grandkids paying for today’s problem via federal money printed out of thin air, you’ll pay it, with increased property taxes and any other taxes a desperate city and county can hoodwink onto the ballot.