Missoula County Commissioners at a Monday meeting committed over $1 million in ARPA funds in part to purchase 30 hard-sided homeless shelters on foundations to be placed in an as-yet undecided location.

Shelter Project Coordinator Casey Gannon provided details.

“We just put them in an order with Pallet Shelter for 30 100 square foot units,” said Gannon. “These are temporary shelters that don't require foundations so they're easily deployed. The company said they can be packed and shipped on a flatbed so they can be easily shipped here and then assembled on site when we're ready and they'll come and set them up for us.”

Gannon said these shelters will eventually replace the current TSOS (Temporary, or Transitional Safe Outdoor Space) facility on Highway 93 South, though a new location has not yet been selected.

“Our plan is to use the shelters when we relocate the current Temporary Safe Outdoor Space and have a more suitable shelter for these people to live in,” he said. “We're working to move it as quickly as possible. I think it's unlikely these will be up in time by winter in terms of putting in the basic infrastructure we’ll need to set up this site. So we're hopeful that we'll have something up and going by the springtime.”

Gannon disclosed the cost for each shelter and the overall cost for the proposed facility.

“The cost of the shelters we just ordered, I think the total order came in just over $400,000,” he said. “And that was first 30 units. And that also includes the shipping and the assembly services. So they'll send a team out to assemble them when we're ready and when we have our site ready for them to go. I believe we set aside about $1 million dollars for this project to have the shelters and then put in all the infrastructure and then that would also include staffing the site.”

Gannon said the new facility is all part of a plan to safely house those experiencing homelessness.

“This whole project is funded through the ARPA monies that the city and county have received and it’s a joint partnership that we're working so it's shared between ARPA funds. I think these pallet shelters are a great option. I mean, they're designed by people that have experienced homelessness and cities across the west have really started using these and seeing great successes with these villages of pallet shelters.”

The shelters will have bunk beds and will be wired for electricity, heating and air conditioning. Gannon said a site of between one to two acres will be necessary for the facility, however, there have been no specific sites chosen yet.

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