Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - There will be a community meeting to discuss the opening of the Emergency Winter Shelter, also known as the Johnson Street Shelter on Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. at the shelter in Franklin Park.

KGVO News spoke to Emily Armstrong, Houseless Program Manager with the City of Missoula on Wednesday for details about the shelter that will open at the end of October.

“The program itself will look quite similar for the Johnson Street Community Center,” said Armstrong. “The plan right now is pending contract approval from Missoula City Council, which will come before Council next Wednesday the 12th. So pending approval there, the shelter will open on October 31, and then it should be open through March as weather dictates.”

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Armstrong said the services at the shelter will be virtually identical as in years past.

“Otherwise things will look similar,” she said. “We'll have a security presence around the shelter and in the neighborhood again. We’ve heard the feedback, in fact, positive feedback about that presence last year and saw some successes there and then the Poverello Center will of course work quickly to staff up in anticipation of the openings.”

Armstrong provided the approximate number of individuals that were served last year at the shelter.

“The total number of unique individuals served last year was 772,” she said. “Some of the successes last year again, were with staffing. The Poverello Center shifted their staffing model a little bit and added a few positions that they said have been key to the success of those operations last year. I think they're going to try to replicate that this year, as well as the addition of that security presence in the neighborhood and to keep residents safe.”

Armstrong provided more details about the shelter’s capacity.

“It can sleep 135 pretty comfortably with social distancing, but I believe we can squeeze a little bit more in if it really comes to it in spaces that aren't necessarily the sleeping quarters, but I think 135 is the safe, comfortable total sleeping number,” she said. “Some of the other services include one hot meal provided per day and then also access to sack lunches and those kinds of food items that the Homeless Outreach Team hands out regularly year round.”

The meeting at Franklin Park will be part of the Franklin to the Fort Neighborhood Council Leadership meeting.

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