Changing a legacy—that's what Gallatin County Commissioner Zach Brown wants to see happen as the City of Bozeman, Gallatin County, and other community leaders take on the increasing homelessness in the Valley.
“Bozeman has a reputation statewide—I learned about this growing up—of being a bus ticket town,” said Brown. “Literally someone’s policy for an extended period when it comes to dealing with homeless individuals was giving them a Greyhound bus ticket to another community that has services—that’s how we dealt with the problem for years. And so that is part of our legacy here."
Recently the city moved people from various locations, including several streets that were popular RV camping sites. Tent campers were also removed from city parks.
On Wednesday, community leaders met to discuss solutions to homelessness and urban camping which they blame on lack of housing, affordability of housing, and services including shelter beds.
"Trying to first and foremost make sure we have space available for shelter so we can fit as many people as safely possible,” said HRDC CEO/President, Heather Grenier.
According to HRDC, since 2019 the number of people who stayed at the Warming Center increased 47 percent. The government accountability office data shows that every $100 increase in rent leads to a 9 percent increase in homelessness.
Grenier says increasing the housing supply with funding from the community impact fund, created in June, and providing space at their new Community Commons campus currently under construction will help ease homelessness.
“We’re trying to connect them to services, let them know what’s available to them so that we can hopefully connect them back to housing,” she said.
The tourism improvement district pledged $1 million to the community impact fund. The money comes from a $2 per night-per room tax on hotels in Bozeman.