Time's running out for the Missoula City Council to create a law on how and where soup kitchens and homeless shelters are built in the city.
Last September, the council voted to put an emergency ordinance in place prohibiting shelters and other social service facilities from going up in residential neighborhoods. That came after the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) pushed to put a soup kitchen in the former Sweetheart Bakery building on West Broadway.
The temporary fix expires in March, so city council members want a permanent law in place to avoid a gap.
Wednesday, at a pre- public hearing they discussed concerns like parking, how the facilities are built and the required distance they would have to be from homes.
“Our concern from the beginning and remains, to protect our neighborhood and to make sure that other neighborhoods who might have the same kinds of situation are also protected,” said one Missoula resident.
“The mission wants to go forward to benefit the homeless and needy in the city of Missoula,” said UGM’s Steve Jackson. “We want to work with the authorities. We want to be good neighbors.”
A public hearing is scheduled for next Monday. Council members hope to move quickly and have an ordinance in place by next month.