First Lewistown, Now Your Town? Homeless Shelter Update
First Lewistown...now your town? We got an update from a couple Montana lawmakers on Monday morning. We wanted to hear the latest when it comes to a proposed warming shelter (homeless shelter) in Lewistown, Montana.
State Rep. Jerry Schillinger (R-Circle) and State Sen. Dan Bartel (R-Lewistown) joined us on the radio. One of the concerns Rep. Schillinger has is that state funds may be used to encourage the construction of new homeless shelters not only in Lewistown, but elsewhere across Montana.
Rep. Schillinger: Part of the impetus for this proposed shelter is a $5 million amendment that got added to House Bill five, which is supposed to be just a maintenance fund for state owned structures.
Schillinger is encouraging the governor, as the executive in charge of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, to not spend the money on a facility like this. He added that what was being pitched as a "warming shelter" in the small town of Lewistown is actually much bigger. He said this after attending a recent public meeting in Lewistown.
Rep. Schillinger: I found out that what was actually proposed is like a 50-bed overnight unit.
State Sen. Dan Bartel (R-Lewistown) says a large percentage of locals are against the proposed homeless shelter. He says Lewistown already has services like churches and the Salvation Army for locals who may end up struggling with homelessness. By encouraging transients to come into the area because of a facility like this, he worries that it will stress local resources, especially when it comes to mental health.
Sen. Bartel: A larger city might need a homeless shelter, or warming hut, but in in the smaller communities such as Lewistown, I just think that's really premature. I think we have to look at whatever services, if we were to attract these people, could we provide to them. As an example- mental health, food, social services that don't necessarily require either one of those- medical care. And we haven't really looked at those types of support services to see whether a homeless shelter could work here.
Click below for full audio of our chat Monday morning starting about 20 minutes in on the following podcast: