Archive for November 25th, 2013

by lizard

Build it and they will come…

That is the refrain of fear repeated by some of the people who have opposed the efforts of the Poverello Center’s relocation to West Broadway.

If you’ve driven along West Broadway in the past month, you’ve probably noticed the building part is well under way. As for those who may come and sully our fair city, the Poverello Center has been breaking records for overnight occupancy, exacerbated by the first real cold snap of the winter season. “They” are already here.

Who “they” are is a collection of stories as various as the individual experiences those stories are derived from, and the more stories that can be told, the better our community will understand what factors in to periods of homelessness people experience.

In a Kaimin feature piece published a few weeks ago, a student told his story about choosing to live in a tent at an undisclosed spot along the Kim Williams trail.

Build it and they will come is not a phrase commonly associated with the University, but getting an education is what brought Erik Lembke from Vermont to Montana, and the cost of housing is what factored in to Lembke deciding not to bother with the hassle and camp instead.

The Kaimin article is a good read, but it’s a story filtered through the lens of a student reporter.

For a first person account, I highly recommend reading 7 Things No One Tells You About Being Homeless. Though the Montana town featured in this article is never explicitly named, I suspect it’s Missoula. The article has nearly 1.5 million views.

Homelessness is an incredibly complicated issue that is almost never served well by local media depictions. The Missoulian has done an especially piss-poor job of reporting on this issue, over-utilizing the now pejorative term TRANSIENT in most of its reporting.

As we near a holiday that should conjure thankfulness for things like living inside, eating good food, and spending time with friends and family, I hope my fellow Missoulians will make an effort to move beyond the fear and stereotypes associated with homelessness to see human stories as various as the lived experiences they come from.

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