Mayor Hess condemns Flathead commission’s take on homeless

Bret Anne Serbin

During a hodgepodge Missoula City Council meeting Monday that tackled issues related to farm animals, park fees, the Riverfront Triangle and equity, Mayor Jordan Hess inveighed against the Flathead County commissioners’ recent statement on homelessness.

Flathead commissioners Randy Brodehl, Brad Abell and Pam Holmquist accused social service providers in Kalispell and the surrounding areas of contributing to the rise in the local unhoused population: “It is our hope that our community will be unified in rejecting all things that empower the homeless lifestyle,” the trio wrote in the Flathead Beacon on Jan. 21.

“They (homeless people) are people whose value has nothing to do with where they put their heads at night,” Hess said.

“This statement lacks compassion and demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the root causes of homelessness,” Hess said Monday night.

He added the Flathead commissioners’ assumption that social support draws homeless people into the community flies in the face of well-established evidence. Data demonstrates, “people do not generally relocate to access services at any appreciable level.”

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