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Butte Homeless Shelter: High cost of housing contributes to homeless problem

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Posted at 4:58 PM, May 03, 2023

BUTTE - The high cost of housing and rent in Butte is one of the factors that cause some people to find themselves in Butte’s homeless shelter. It’s also the reason why they’re having a difficult time transitioning out.

“Places that are selling and we’re kicking renters out and raising the rent, and renters can’t get back in on the amount of income that they have or the assistance that they have. Then where do they go?” said Rescue Mission Director Brayton Erickson.

That’s why officials at the homeless shelter want to work with agencies in the city to try to solve this problem.

“Butte’s a very strong community in, one, helping our neighbors, but then also in collaborating. Making sure agencies that are helping people with basic necessities,” said Erickson.

Andrew Stiff has been a client and worker at the shelter for more than a year. He said the shelter helps him cope with his alcoholism that left him homeless and living in a wooded area near Father Sheehan Park.

He said his recovery is going well, but it’s difficult to find his own place once he leaves the shelter.

“I’m saving up money and eventually I will make the transition when I feel ready. I’m not going to lie, rent prices and everything in this city are high and it’s scary—$800, $900 a month on your own is a lot of money to pay,” said Stiff.

In 2022 the Butte Rescue Mission Emergency Shelter served a little more than 350 unique visitors. The transitional shelter for long-term clients has 40 beds and is usually 75 to 80 percent full. The shelter recently asked the Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners for $250,000 to help run its emergency shelter.

But the shelter needs more than just funding.

“We need people to look for answers on affordable housing, we need people to take care of their neighbors, we need people to care, we need people to show compassion to someone who’s less fortunate. And we’re seeing that, and it’s amazing, we’re starting to change the community,” said Erickson.