New YWCA homeless shelter for families receives funding boost from city, state

A ceremonial groundbreaking planned Thursday for a new Missoula YWCA shelter for homeless families and victims of domestic violence was postponed until later this summer, but for the best of reasons, according to YWCA executive director Cindy Weese.

“We have received two Community Development Block Grants,” she said, “one from the city, and one from the state. Both grants require a 45-day public comment period, and we don’t want to take any action until the public has had an opportunity to review the plans and provide comments.”

A collaborative effort between the Missoula YWCA and the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative, the new facility will be located at 1800 South Third Street West, near the Good Food Store.

Weese emphasized that the postponed event was a “ceremonial” groundbreaking, and the “actual” groundbreaking will occur later this summer. The ceremony was also a planned kickoff for the project’s Capital Campaign fundraising effort. 

The project has already raised $6.4 million, Weese said. The goal is to raise $8 million. Last January, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency approved up to $144,404 in Tax Increment Financing toward the project. The city community block grant is $350,000, and the state block grant is $450,000.

The Community Development Block Grant Program is a federal program, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and provides annual grants to states, cities and counties to help, in part, provide housing for people in need of assistance.

According to the YWCA, the Missoula community has an urgent need for a safe place where homeless families and survivors of domestic violence can find shelter and support to get back on their feet.

There are an estimated 50 homeless families, including 100 children, unsheltered on any given night in Missoula, and there is currently no facility that provides same-day access to emergency housing for families with children.

The YWCA’s domestic violence shelter will provide a safe and secure shelter for up to 13 single adults or adults with children fleeing violence.  The family housing center will provide short-term emergency housing for up to 31 homeless families with dependent children, operated in partnership with Family Promise, a program of the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative.

 Last winter, in a memo to the Missoula Redevelopment Agency board, MRA assistant director Chris Behan wrote: “This project directly impacts the unmet need in Missoula to shelter and feed the most vulnerable of the community’s homeless population. It will not erase the problem, as there is an average of 50 homeless families each night in Missoula and this project can shelter 31 of them. However, it is a major step to protecting families with children and both individuals and families who are the victims of domestic violence.”

For more information about the project, go to: https://ywcaofmissoula.org/new-home/.