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Group lobbies city to form new partnership to tackle homelessness in Billings

Posted at 11:21 PM, Mar 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:49:48-04

BILLINGS – In a work session Monday, the Billings City Council heard from those in favor of establishing a partnership between with the city to curb homelessness.

A Continuum of Care is a partnership between Billings organizations that already combat homelessness and local governments.

Homelessness in Billings is a complex issue, and supporters of Continuum of Care hope the partnership will be a coordinated effort to combat the problem.

Fourteen organizations, including Alternatives, Billings Clinic, Montana Rescue Mission and others, asked the council for $90,000 to establish a Continuum of Care coordinator and a crisis diversion fund.

The coordinator costs $70,000. That position would be responsible for keeping all partners in the continuum engaged, and ensuring quality data is being shared across organizations.

The crisis diversion fund makes up the other $20,000 the group is seeking. Supporters say the difference between being homeless or not is often one car repair, one utility bill, or gas to get home. This fund provides the Continuum of Care the resources to help people stay in their homes.

The group does not want to create people who are dependent on the system, but rather give them tools so they no longer need the system.

“The beauty of this approach, working together, is this: Let’s say someone gets out of Deer Lodge and they go through Passages, and then they start looking for help. If they just come to us (Montana Rescue Mission) they may have more needs then we can address,” said Matt Lundgrin, Montana Rescue Mission executive director.  “It’s by us all sitting down each month and talking about how we can work together so that we can find solutions. Not just enabling people, or neglecting people and allowing them to continue their destructive lifestyles.”

The council did not vote on Monday but encouraged those in favor of the Continuum of Care to report back with more detailed information.

You can find the full list of Billings organizations backing Continuum of Care in the attachments of the Billings City Council agenda item here.