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Poverello, city ink $211K contract to continue homeless outreach, programs

A formerly homeless individual leaves his camp in this file photo. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file)

With funding from the American Rescue Plan in hand, the Missoula City Council on Wednesday directed $211,000 to the Poverello Center to help it carry out certain programs for the homeless.

The contract, approved unanimously by committee, will support the Pov’s ability to provide services across Missoula, including homeless outreach, food services and shelter operations.

“Some of the main outcomes we’ve built into the contract include the Homeless Outreach Team, which will provide regular updates to partners, including the city, on progress, challenges and needs related to homeless outreach,” said Emily Armstrong, the city’s Reaching Home Program coordinator.

Armstrong said the Homeless Outreach Team will also increase its data collection and tracking system, and share the information with the city to help it make informed budgetary decisions down the road.

Members of the City Council lauded the effort, saying more data on the homeless population will be useful in making decisions and dispelling myths.

“This is American Rescue Plan funding and it’s a great way to spend that funding,” said council member Amber Sherrill. “Other than the outreach and helping people get to the shelter and navigate Reaching Home, it’s great for us as a city to have data around that, because there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the unhoused population in our community.”

Under the contract, Armstrong said the Poverello will also show a 50% increase in assessments for the city’s Coordinated Entry System. The program serves as a gateway to help steer unhoused individuals toward various community serves and set them on a path toward stable housing.

The Homeless Outreach Team will also continue to support those who are chronically homeless or unsheltered in Missoula, said Jill Bonny, the shelter’s executive director.

“A big part of this funding helps keep the Homeless Outreach Team expanded,” said Bonny. “They’re busy every day, and this is important to the work we do.”

In recent weeks, the city and county also have directed funding to the Poverello to help it recruit and retain the workforce needed to operate the shelter, along with the seasonal winter shelter on Johnson Street.