The Temporary Safe Outdoor Space tent shelter on Highway 93 South just past the Buckhouse Bridge, is still operating under the auspices of the Hope Rescue Mission in Missoula.

At the outset, the TSOS was intended as a temporary solution for those who wanted to eventually transition into a more stable living environment in Missoula, with scheduled closure at the end of April. Hope Rescue Mission Executive Director Jim Hicks has details about funding the TSOS.

“Our funding is tied to the emergency edict regarding COVID,” said Hicks. “It looks like that could be lifted this summer at some point, and while there's some residual funds from that, we will have to reevaluate after that edict is lifted as to what our future looks like.”

However, if Hicks has his wish, he’ll change the ‘T’ from Temporary to Transitional.

“We would like to turn the ‘temporary’ safe outdoor space into a ‘transitional’ safe outdoor space; meaning it becomes a place for people who desire to move forward and will comply, that they will have some time where they can be safe with the things that they own,” he said. “They can leave, they can go to case management, they can go to their job, and they can come back and all of their stuff will be intact.”

Hicks said there are agencies throughout Missoula that are lined up waiting to assist these individuals who genuinely want to go through such a ‘transition’.

“It's a service rich environment, where we're bringing case managers to them so they have no excuse to miss their meetings, we’re bringing some health care to them and bringing some other outside services. For example, arts and crafts. We've had some craft times out there, and we’re just trying to give them the ability to gain traction to move forward. That's been our heart and we would like to see that continue.”

Hicks expanded on the transitional nature of the TSOS.

“We really see the big picture as a spectrum that has many different points,” he said. “One of those points is to get people into a safe outdoor space that they can begin to gain that traction and then perhaps move to transitional housing, Tiny Homes, or whatever that might be. We know here in the Missoula valley affordable housing is a challenge and we understand that, but we just want to try to help people move forward and gain the proper documents they need so that they can move the needle forward in their own lives.”

Hicks said some of the individuals taking advantage of the current shelter have been ‘out of the loop’ for many years. He said they want to ‘help those that want it’ to gain the traction and the upward mobility that they need.

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