Flathead County commissioners blame shelters, homeless network for rise in homelessness

ADRIAN KNOWLER Daily Inter Lake

Flathead County commissioners issued a letter Thursday criticizing homeless services organizations and calling upon residents to deny homeless people help or support.

In the letter to county residents, signed by Commissioners Pam Holmquist, Brad Abell and Randy Brodehl, the trio claim nonprofits catering to homeless people have led to an increase in homelessness in the valley. They argue that charities and individuals providing homeless people with money or other support likewise contribute to a “distressing problem.”

“If we continue to enable the homeless population, then those numbers will increase,” reads the letter.

The commissioners call it a “simple truth” that shelters are causing homeless people to migrate to the area, though they offered no evidence in the letter to support the claim. The commissioners did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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They pointed to a correlation between the opening of a low barrier shelter and a “dramatic increase in homeless individuals.” While not specifically named, the Flathead Warming Center that opened in 2020 is the only low barrier shelter in the community.

They further claim that a “progressive network” is conspiring to bring in

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