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Butte homeless shelter set to open June 12

Aaron Roesler, a laborer with Hoffman's R&M, works Thursday outside of the Butte Rescue Mission's new homeless shelter, which is set to open June 12.

The Butte Rescue Mission, which was forced to close its longstanding homeless shelter two years ago because of fire safety issues, plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony on its new shelter June 11 and will begin operations the next day.

“We are excited that we’re going to be getting back to what we do best, and that is serving the community,” Mission Executive Director Rocky Lyons said Thursday.

After other possible locations fell through, the Christian-based Mission bought land and an old, vacant warehouse at Arizona and Platinum streets last year and previously purchased housing pods in North Dakota.

There are two units in place at the Butte site now — one with five pods for men and one with six pods for women, children, and intact families. The unit for men has a commercial kitchen and dining room where everyone on the campus will eat.

The new shelter will open with a dedication and ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 11, and the public will be able to tour the facility that day. Meals and overnight accommodations will start the next day.

Last year, in response to community demand, the Mission agreed to establish a third unit that will serve as a low-barrier emergency shelter where those who are drunk or high can stay overnight.

Preparations for that site are still being made, Lyons said, but housing units for it should arrive soon, and officials hope to have it open in the coming weeks, too.

The Mission was forced to close its previous shelter on East Second Street in April 2017 because of fire safety concerns. Although originally a family home, it served as a homeless shelter for 40 years.

But it was too small to do much besides sleep people, and even then, it was often crowded with more than 40 overnight residents. There was hardly any space to offer services or programs to get people back on their feet.

That won’t be a concern at the new location.

“It’s a huge improvement in that we have way more space — probably triple the space we had previously — to do all kinds of programs,” Lyons said. “But the immediate improvement is just the fact that we have a solid structure that is not falling down on us and it’s safe, clean, and secure.”

There will be even more room when an old warehouse on the property is converted to Mission offices, a large day room, and space where residents can use computers to look for work and apply for jobs and get lessons in various job, life, and parenting skills. Lyons said money is still being raised for those renovations, but they hope to start work on that by the end of the year.

When it opens next month, up to 56 people can stay on the campus each night, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served to them and anyone else in Butte who needs a meal.

Lyons said preparations are still being made. A walk-in freezer and cooler is being installed to store food, more landscaping work is needed, and there are some “finishing touches” to be made to the men’s unit.

But she said operations should begin June 12 as planned.

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Government and politics reporter

Mike Smith is a reporter at the Montana Standard with an emphasis on government and politics.

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