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Montana Rescue Mission ready to help Billings homeless in winter

Rescue Mission.jpg
Posted at 10:09 PM, Oct 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 00:09:12-04

Billings is looking at helping people who are homeless this winter.

The City Council recently approved $210,000 of public safety mill levy and marijuana tax money to help theYellowstone County Continuum Of Care and its low barrier shelter.

It also approved some money for the Montana Rescue Mission, which is already working and expanding its programs.

Carrie Medley has received help and learns from rescue mission shift Jess McCormick.

"It's given me something to work for," Medley said.

She started in the chef intern program about a month after arriving at the rescue mission.

"I came from the county jail and I was being re-entered into the public, after 14 months," she said.

Medley avoided homelessness, but others talked about the challenges of living on the streets.

"The hardest part about being homeless, staying warm at night," said Dylan Ward, who has benefited from rescue mission help. "Safety is a big thing. When you sleep on the sidewalk, anybody can come along and kick in your head. I was sleeping in South Park a couple of years back, got a baseball bat to the head."

But they're safe at the mission and working and making their lives better.

"Counselors and the people that work here, they all help out," said Robert Carter, who is also benefiting from rescue mission help. "If it wasn't for them, I probably would have left a long time ago and just been on the streets still."

Rev. Matt Lundgren, Montana Rescue Mission executive director, says the mission has run an emergency or low barrier shelter for 75 years.

The mission has been taking care of about 200 people, 140 in the main shelter and up to 60 in the emergency shelter, which gets set up in the chapel.

"Anyone is welcome in the emergency shelter," Lundgren said. "It doesn't matter if they're clean or sober, if they have a criminal record. Anyone's welcome and then we work with folks. We just ask people not be a danger to themselves or to others."

Crews are working on a new building,which will have the shelter's apartments and rooms for training.

Lundgren says it'll make the current programs that much better.

"The last six months we've put hundreds of people in their own place to live, moving people off the streets into our place, getting clean, getting sober, getting some mental health right and whatever it takes to get people back into the workforce and back into society and then into their own," Lundgren said.

"I'm excited to get up every morning and I'm excited to learn whatever the day has for me to learn," Medley said.