Missoula set to open 40-spot authorized camping site for houseless people

David Erickson

A new 40-space legal camping spot for houseless people will open in Missoula on Tuesday, Jan. 18 on Clark Fork Lane behind the Super Walmart on Mullan Road.

Meant to replace illegal and ad hoc camping areas such as the site beneath the Reserve Street Bridge, the new Authorized Camping Site will feature 24/7 security staff presence, trash removal, outhouses with sanitation and visits by outreach teams.

“As (county) Commissioner Josh Slotnick often says, doing nothing is not an option,” explained Missoula mayor John Engen. “So the Missoula County commissioners and I, along with the city council and our collective staff partners, have agreed that we’re going to experiment with a number of approaches that we hope temper suffering in our community.”

The site is the first option to open through Operation Shelter, which was launched last year by the county and the city to address unauthorized camping in the urban area. The site is on city-owned property and federal American Rescue Plan Act money was used to set up the site and equip it with toilets, hire security and pay for other logistics.

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