How Big Is Montana’s “Urban Camping” Issue? Bigger Than You Think
Even though opinions on the topic vary, one thing that I think we can all agree on is that all of the "Urban Camping" that is happening across Montana, won't be ending anytime soon.
Bigger cities across the state have seen an increase in folks living in parks, cars, and RVs. Towns like Bozeman and Missoula have been affected more than most, and while no one wants to see folks struggle, there doesn't seem to be a solution that everyone can agree on.
So just how bad is it? Well, I can tell you that it's being discussed not only in Montana but across the border as well.
I spent a few days in Alberta visiting friends and checking out the sites and was asked about "all of the broken down RVs in the streets of Bozeman." Yep, it seems that even the people in Canada are aware of our Urban Camping problem.
To say that I was a little shocked is an understatement.
Don't get me wrong, it seems that most big cities are dealing with this issue in some way or another, but we really don't have a "big city" here in Montana. What we do have, however, is a mess on our hands and on the streets. Overflowing dumpsters, broken down vehicles, car parts scattered around, and people bathing out in public is probably not the image that city or state officials want to portray.
Add in the fact that the two schools of thought are either "Leave them alone" or "Kick them all out" doesn't really help.
The truth is, it's a sad situation. However, according to many, crime has increased and some of those crimes have been violent. Business owners are frustrated, homeowners are frustrated, and the problem seems to be growing. Throw in the fact, that there isn't a "quick fix" and we've got ourselves a big problem.
There are plans in the works for more affordable housing, but that doesn't help anyone who is currently living in these areas. There are discussions of making folks move every 5 days, but if that doesn't solve the problem either, it just relocates it.
So what do you do? Complain? Move them out? Wait for a solution? It's a big question for a big problem.