On a breezy, sunny Thursday morning, several dozen individuals gathered on the front lawn of the Missoula County Courthouse for the official kickoff of the campaign to fund the Missoula County Crisis Intervention Levy.

First to speak was Missoula businessman Shannon Flanagan who described the reason for the gathering.

“Today we are gathered to support and launch our efforts to support the Crisis Intervention Levy that will be on the November ballot,” began Flanagan. “Because of this and in combination with the loss of American Recovery Plan Act funds from the federal government that support programs that have helped fund solutions to combat these issues, I'm concerned about the health and safety of our friends, family and neighbors.”

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Flanagan briefly described some of the programs the levy will support if passed by Missoula taxpayers this November.

“The mobile support team is made up of groups of paramedics and social workers responding to crisis calls as they are happening,” he said. MST (the Mobil Support Team) responds to a dozen or more calls a day and are successful in diverting hundreds of very costly visits to the ER and jails. The Crisis Intervention Program helps reduce reliance on the criminal justice system, and instead connects individuals in crisis to behavioral health services and the emergency winter shelter and temporary safe outdoor space provide people facing homelessness with places to go while connecting them to sustainable housing.”

One poignant moment occurred when Linda Clark, a beneficiary of the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space (TSOS) shared her personal story.

“My name is Linda Clark and I am one of the TSOS success stories,” said Clark. “I was homeless for three years due to a domestic violence situation. I lived in the mountains where I endured 30 below zero weather and then I found TSOS and now I am housed and life is getting a lot better. I really am thankful for their program, and I'd probably be in the mountains if it wasn't for them.”

Using the Biblical analogy of David and Goliath, Jim Hicks with the Hope Rescue Mission described the programs the levy will support as how the small and agile 'David' was able to defeat society’s ‘Goliath’.

“This crisis intervention levy has both the agility and the targeted skill to impact the cumbersome, giant trifecta of the unhoused, those that are mentally ill, and those that are facing substance use disorders.”

The proposed levy would be for about $5.5 million. For the taxpayer, the levy would cost $54 annually for a home with an assessed value of $200,000, or $135 annually for a home with an assessed value of $500,000.

Mail-in ballots for the election on November 8 will go out sometime in October.

Click here to learn more about the Missoula Crisis Intervention Levy.

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