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Lack Of Money Could Close Montana Warming Shelters

An organization that runs warming centers for people experiencing homelessness in Bozeman and Livingston says it needs thousands of dollars in community donations, or they may have to close their doors during winter.

Bozeman’s Human Resource Development Council says its warming center, split between two properties, needs $200,000 to stay open through March.

HRDC Housing Director Shari Eslinger says the facility provides 50 to 55 people a place to sleep each night.

"We’re just trying to make sure none of our neighbors die because they don’t have any other place to go in the evenings. So, we want to provide that warm safe place for folks."

Eslinger says many warming center guests work one or multiple jobs, but still don’t make enough to secure stable housing.

The warming center is funded solely by community donations, as is a similar shelter in Livingston.

HRDC says it needs $34,000 to keep the Livingston warming center open through March.

Eslinger says two to five people use the space each night. She says the 22 individuals who have stayed at the shelter this winter didn’t have anywhere else to go in town.

"There is no other options in that community currently; there’s no other shelters. Bozeman is the closest shelter, but having folks go through that pass in the winter just so they have a place to rest their head and not freeze to death is also pretty risky as well."

Temperatures have been near average in the 30s in the Gallatin Valley the last few days, but another part of the state with a need for shelter space is getting slammed with frigid weather. Bob Hoenisch with the National Weather Service says windchill temperatures around the Fort Peck Indian Reservation have fallen to -40 degrees the last few days. The Great Falls Tribune reports the reservation’s only two homeless shelters have been closed for months due to methamphetamine contamination.

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