The pic above was taken last week right in front of my loft apartment building on Montana Ave. When I moved here about 2 and a half years ago long time Billings residents told me that where I live used to be skid row and that the redevelopment of the historic district has vastly improved the neighborhood. For the record, I've never felt unsafe walking in the area, even late at night.

That said, the St. Vincent De Paul Mission is just a few dozen feet from my door which attracts a lot of homeless people. The mission does great work and the homeless folks have never bothered me personally however I have witnessed a fight or two. Montana Avenue is better but it still has a ways to go. The violence that still exists is mostly among the homeless with few victims counted among actual residents. While I'm a fan of the great work St. Vincent De Paul, The Hub and the Montana Rescue Mission do, I would like to see them move further east. Local efforts to draw more people to live downtown, moving the homeless further away from the newly built dwellings is key to continued downtown revitalization.

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