HRDC launching emergency homeless shelter

Johnathan Hettinger -
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A temporary emergency housing shelter will be coming to Livingston — as soon as Human Resources and Development Council can hire people to staff it.

The shelter, which will be on Second Street next to the HRDC offices, will be a temporary pilot program open from January through March. The shelter is designed to house up to 20 people — 12 men, four women and a family of four.

“It can be life changing to have consistency and a place to go out of the cold,” said Marissa Hackett, outreach coordinator for HRDC.

HRDC is hosting a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Food Resource Center to get the public’s feedback and ask for their help.

The shelter will be entirely communityfunded, said Shari Eslinger, housing director for HRDC. The organization is looking for donations, volunteers, and supplies.

The shelter’s operating hours are still being discussed, though it will likely be 6 p.m. to 9 a.m., from when Loaves and Fishes stops serving dinner until the Senior Center opens in the morning.

The shelter is expected to cost $12,500 per month, including two staff members at all times, rent and supplies. That cost may be higher because it was based off a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. schedule.

The Food Resource Center will provide breakfast to the shelter in the form of crockpot breakfasts, oatmeal and breakfast muffins, Executive Director Michael McCormick said.

HRDC will still ask the Livingston Police Department, Livingston Fire and Rescue and the Park County Sheriff’s Office to examine the facility, Eslinger said.

Hackett said the jobs have been posted on the HRDC website and they are ready to hire to get it up and going. HRDC is looking for donations such as food, furniture and other items.

Eslinger said HRDC knows there’s a need for a shelter — at least five people would use it if it were available tonight — but doesn’t have good statistics. Part of the reason for the pilot program is to figure out what those demographics are, she said.

Then, HRDC will use that information to better figure out what to do for next winter, including whether the space is big enough or meets the community needs.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to throw something together on a more permanent basis starting in November,” Eslinger said.

The shelter is meant to be low-barrier, so people won’t be required to have IDs and people struggling with drug and alcohol use would be welcome. Even though it’s designed as an emergency shelter, Eslinger said it likely will be used as a home for some community residents.

“It’s meant to be an emergency shelter, but we will expect to see people who meet the definition of chronic homelessness,” Eslinger said.