Poverello Center Executive Director Ellie Hill was relieved last week when the Missoula Board of County Commissioners agreed to pick up the tab on construction work required to transform the Ryman Street homeless shelter's basement into a new Salcido Center.
"It's such wonderful news," Hill says.
Commissioners voted unanimously to provide $20,400 in community building grants to the Poverello Center. The funding ensures Poverello staffers will continue offering the Salcido Center's daytime services, like vocational assistance, referrals to area social service providers and a place to go that's off the street.
The Pov was scrambling to find a new home for the Salcido Center after First Baptist Church announced earlier this year it would not renew the Pov's lease when it expires in December.
County grants will be used to create a separate entrance into the existing Poverello Center basement. The basement will serve as a stand-alone drop-in center and remain detached from the rest of the facilities. Partitioning the two is necessary, Hill says, because intoxicated guests are not allowed at the overnight shelter. The shelter's mandate differs from that of the Salcido Center, where no one is turned away.
Last week's news is a relief, but as winter approaches the Pov faces other challenges. The shelter's 100-year-old structure routinely operates well over capacity, especially once the temperature drops. Hill says she asked the Missoula Ministerial Association, comprised of churches from across the area, to help house any overflow the homeless shelter can't accommodate.
"We can't be the only part of the solution," Hill says. "We need the whole community to respond to its homelessness problem."
It remains to be seen if the churches will get on board this winter. As for the immediate future, Hill says the new Salcido Center is slated to open Oct.