Concerns grow for people experiencing homelessness near Reserve St. bridge

MISSOULA - As the Clark Fork River gets close to cresting, there is growing concerns for those experiencing homelessness, who have made camp near the water. 

ABC FOX Montana reached out to the Poverello Center and the Hope Rescue Mission, two organizations keeping an eye on the folks finding refuge by the Reserve St. bridge in Missoula. 

Amy Allison Thompson the executive director at the Poverello Center said the shelter had to significantly cut the number of people they could house due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to follow CDC social distancing guidelines.  She believes this cap on their housing led to more individuals experiencing homelessness to make the area near the Reserve St. bridge their temporary home. Thompson said these folks have nowhere else to go. 

April Seat with the Hope Rescue Mission in Missoula said the number of people experiencing homelessness nearly doubled since the pandemic broke out. She thinks there are a few dozen people living by the river's edge. 

Thompson said the homeless outreach team, which the Hope Rescue Mission is apart of, is bringing meals, hygiene supplies and warning these people about rising flood waters, but there are challenges in getting these people to move. 

"Some of the folks we serve are struggling with mental health issues and may not understand that this is really important that they have to move," Thompson said. "People have no where else to go so I think folks are also feeling a sense of hopelessness around this when there is no where else for them to be."

Moving forward, Thompson said there are government resources the Poverello Center is working to access to get some help finding people permanent housing. 

The homeless outreach team is also cleaning up the litter around the area to prevent it from getting into floodwaters. 

The Poverello Center is in need of donations. Click here to see the list of supplies

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