Missoula’s 10 Year Plan To End Homelessness
This weekend, the cold arrives, which makes this a good time to remind local readers that people on the economic margins of our community don’t always have the security of somewhere warm to sleep.
Last month, Missoula’s 10 year plan to end homelessness opened up for public comment. It’s worth taking the time to read. I’ve been very encouraged, following this process, to see what’s being shaped.
After reading the 40+ pages, one of the big takeaways is the need to focus more resources on prevention.
But what does that actually mean?
It might help to understand how precarious housing can be. It can range from couch surfing to weekly motels; car sleeping to a sleeping bag beneath a tarp, beneath a bridge.
What all those options have in common is a vulnerability to loss, which was highlighted yesterday by this letter published in the Missoulian. The letter describes a homeless veteran getting kicked out of his motel room for the Griz/Cat game. Read it below the fold.
Why can’t we do better than this?
I received a phone call from a 61-year-old disabled veteran for whom I have been appointed to handle all financial matters. This homeless veteran is being housed in a local hotel while waiting to be processed into the over-burdened Veterans Administration system.
The reason for his call was that he had been advised by a hotel clerk that he would have to give up his room on the weekend of the upcoming Griz/Cat game to make room for game attendees.
I hoped there was a misunderstanding. I went to the hotel and spoke to the manager, who confirmed the veteran’s room had been rented for Saturday, Nov. 17, and if necessary, he may have to give up his room on Friday, Nov. 16 to accommodate game attendees.
When asked if the room had been rented prior to the veteran’s occupancy, I received no definitive answer. I offered to pay full room rate for the two nights rather than a weekly rate with no luck.
I appreciate the revenue a Griz/Cat game brings to this community, but should we be putting a disabled veteran out on the street because there is a chance of renting the room to game attendees?
I checked the comments to the letter, and came across what appears to be a response explaining why this man lost his ability to stay:
I am writing in regards to Kevin Parks’ letter to the editor on 11/08/12 about the Missoula motel.
He claims that a Missoula motel is evicting a homeless veteran out on the street just to make room for our Griz fans on November 16th & 17th. That is so far from the truth, his client started staying at our motel on October 10th 2012. When the reservation was made it was made for one week. There was no mention of a longer term stay. Had they asked at time of check in we would have informed them there was no availability on November 17th 2012.
His client has come down each week to add another week to his stay. Two weeks ago the client informed us he would be checking out as he was getting his own apartment. For whatever reason that didn’t happen. So yes since it looked like he may want to stay longer we had to inform the guest that we had no rooms available for Saturday November 17th as we have been sold out for months.
I did talk to Kevin I told him we do not have any rooms for November 17th and again have been sold out for months. We have no rooms available to sell to anyone not even the guests that we have on our waiting list. We had no issue with his client he, is a very nice guy if we had availability we would let him stay. We never said he was getting evicted we, informed him we had no rooms available for that day. There is a difference.
I want to apologize to Kevin’s friend who called me about the letter. I’m sorry about my reaction to you.