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United Way: Missoula homeless camp in urgent need of blankets

Missoula’s approach to serving the homeless and guiding them toward stable housing will continue to evolve next year, starting with the opening of a new and legal outdoor camp to replace the illegal camp under the Reserve Street bridge.

Until then, the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space off Highway 93 remains open, and the United Way of Missoula County this week issued an urgent request for blankets to serve the camp’s homeless residents.

“Currently, the 20 individuals staying at the TSOS are really struggling to keep warm in their tents,” said United Way CEO Susan Hay Patrick. “We’re hoping that generous Missoulians may have blankets they’re not using that they would donate, or that folks would consider buying blankets for their unhoused neighbors.”

In the first 12 months of the camp’s operation, Patrick said 30% of residents, or 26 individuals, moved on to stable housing after receiving services. Others received help obtaining identification cards and were provided with supportive services intended to help them overcome barriers to housing.

Until they move on, the safe confines of the camp are home, and Patrick said the blankets become personal items that travel with the individuals as they achieve sustainable housing.

“It could make a huge difference on these frigid winter nights,” she said of the blankets.

Patrick said new or gently used blankets, preferably wool, can be dropped off at the Hope Rescue Mission’s Hope Thrift Boutique at 702 SW Higgins Ave. this week in Missoula.

The boutique is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from December 28-30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3.

Regular hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. resume on Jan. 4.