Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Missoula County will direct local funding to purchase two trailers for the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space off Broadway, providing bathrooms and showers for the camp's residents.

County grants administrator Nancy Rittel said the $150,000 in county funds will add to the $889,000 the county distributed in 18 contracts from the Community Assistance Fund for Fiscal Year 2023.

The Community Assistance Fund is set aside to pay for certain social services that meet the basic needs of low-income community members. A decade ago, it was referred to as “the poor fund.”

“It will be going to bathroom and shower trailers,” said Rittel. “There's a need for that. This is a perfect funding source for that population.”

The Temporary Safe Outdoor Space was initially established in 2020 off Highway 93 on the south side of Missoula. This year, however, it moved to a new location near the Missoula County Detention Center at Broadway and Mullan.

Program advocates said the new camp would include 30 prefabricated modular shelters capable of sleeping four people for a total of 124 beds. The two restroom trailers will provide six bathrooms in all, along with sinks and showers.

“This past spring, we learned that in FY 23, independent of the standard amounts we contract for, there was a one-time $150,000 available. It was important to look at this opportunity to make an impact,” said Rittel.

The two trailers will be required to connect to city sanitation services. But the timing of that connection remains uncertain.

“The intention is to get the main there, but they haven't returned about timing,” said Shannon Theriault, the county's director of environmental health. “If they wanted to start operating before those were connected, they'd have to get a variance.”