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Housed Great Falls asking for volunteers to help homeless

Posted at 8:07 AM, Feb 08, 2024

GREAT FALLS — As the weather begins to turn into the seasonable norm across Central Montana, concerns over unhoused populations become severe. There are several organization’s in Great Falls dedicated to serving the homeless, but one of them is only in its second year.

Housed Great Falls received their 501(c)(3) certification in 2022, and though they’re in the juvenile stages as a group, they’ve already made major splashes to aid those living on the streets. Hundreds of hours between several volunteers has helped provide cold weather services for the homeless. They’ve served up over one-thousand meals, and given out warm articles of clothing.

Morgan Yegerlehne, a board member for Housed Great Falls, as well as their volunteer coordinator, says the spirit of their events is wholly positive.

“Just be friendly neighbors and allow them a space to be safe and warm for a little bit,” says Yegerlehne.

Morgan says they aim to accommodate those who may have personal convictions, beliefs, or even animals which keep them from some of the other services.

“There are a ton of services and great service providers in Great Falls. Our target population is a population that, for whatever reason, they can't get their needs met,” says Yegerlehne. “Some people have pets. Some people have different religious beliefs and they don't feel comfortable in a space that has religious ties.”

Housed Great Falls say they serve anywhere from 10 to 60 individuals per drop-in event. To help sign up to volunteer with Housed Great Falls, visit their Facebook page.

According to a 2023 Homeless Assessment Report from Congress, Montana is near or at the bottom in several unhoused demographics:

  • Montana saw the largest increase, 551%, of individuals experiencing chronic patterns of homelessness from 2007 to 2023, according to the 2023 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress.
  • Montana saw the second-largest increase in homeless youth, 76%, from 2022 to 2023, the report said. (North Dakota had the largest at 89%.)
  • Montana saw the second-largest percentage increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness from 2007 to 2023, at 89%. (The first was Vermont at 218%.)
  • From 2022 to 2023, Montana had the third-largest percentage increase, 45%, in the number of people experiencing homelessness. (New Mexico was at 57% and New Hampshire was at 55%.)
  • Most states decreased their numbers of homeless veterans since 2009. However, from 2009 to 2023, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness increased in four states, including Montana (one veteran). (Maine remained level from 2009 to 2023.)

The number of homeless still exceeds the number of beds shelters can provide in Great Falls, and requests for shelter in the Electric City doubled from 2021 to 2022, according to the Montana Coalition to Solve Homelessness.
But organizations like Housed Great Falls provide a step in the right direction. Morgan hopes her group is able to one day become a tiny-home transitional community for unsheltered individuals.

“What provides safety? Quality of life, being able to go out and get a job or go out and serve the community,” says Yegerlehne.

Housed Great Falls next volunteer event is Thursday, February 8th, followed by another cold weather service on Sunday, February 11th. Visit the Housed Great Falls page on Facebook for more information.