If you’ve heard talk about the Crisis Intervention Levy (a ballot measure for next month in Missoula County) and wondered why it matters, let’s cover some of that here.
Here at Hope Rescue Mission, we support the levy measure because it directly affects care available for those struggling with mental illness, homelessness, and ultimately living in darkness. We understand that true, transformative change happens at the heart level and it takes a variety of service providers to meet the needs of our hometown.
When COVID hit Missoula (perhaps you’ve heard of it), Federal dollars were allocated to each State to address negative impacts. Those monies trickled down to local municipalities and that’s where some of our new programs in Missoula were able to begin. One of those programs that were ultimately made possible was our Temporary Safe Outdoor Space (TSOS).
This was initially started as a response to COVID, allowing our homeless neighbors a safe, socially distanced, place to reside and receive services when everything else was shutting down. Federal COVID relief dollars covered all the one-time costs for equipment and site preparation to make it happen–things like tents, gravel for site prep, sleeping bags, cots, and emergency food. When it comes to operational costs, additional COVID relief funding has covered the price of all ongoing security for the program.
The TSOS was unchartered territory for Hope Rescue Mission. What began as a pilot program, quickly proved successful in equipping those experiencing homelessness with real tools and change needed to get off the street and into an apartment/home once and for all, which is why the TSOS is such a needed program in Missoula.
Why do we need security for TSOS? It’s two-fold: we need security to keep unauthorized people from coming onto the TSOS grounds and to keep participants safe onsite. Our relationships with a professional security firm cover security from 6p-8am every night and 24/7 on weekends. It ensures there is still safety and structure during non-business hours, protects all equipment and furnishings from damage or theft, and ensures safety for all residing temporarily at the TSOS.
The Crisis Intervention Levy would ensure that funding would continue to be provided for security at the current (and soon-to-be expanded) TSOS. Consistent security is necessary and critical to this program. To absorb this cost directly as a Mission is unfeasible.
Do you remember how we talked about the need for many service providers? Other programs in Missoula were also established with these Federal dollars, which are set to expire Dec. 31, 2022. One of these is the Mobile Support Team. This team is called when individuals are in a mental health crisis and need to calm down. They can also provide necessary medication and ultimately prevent unnecessary ER visits or jail. This saves local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. The Mobile Support Team is also funded entirely by Federal COVID relief dollars and would no longer exist if the levy doesn’t pass.
Similar to TSOS, the Mobile Support Team was established as a pilot program, quickly proving successful and saving taxpayers money right away.
Additional programs funded with these time-limited funds include the Emergency Winter Shelter (operated by the Poverello Center), The Community Care Team, Crime Victim Advocates, and more!
The levy would provide funding in perpetuity to continue these successful programs. They address serious social dilemmas in our community like mental illness, homelessness, and urban camping. Without these programs, community members will again see an increase in homelessness in neighborhoods. Increase in unnecessary ER visits taxing an already over-burdened medical system. Increased mental health crises leading to violence (or even death) when individuals can’t access the help they need in a timely manner.
Will you come alongside Hope Rescue Mission to support this initiative and invest in a better community for all?