Friday, December 23, 2011

What a difference two years can make!

  • The Mayor’s Committee on Homelessness released Welcome Home Billings, the City’s ten-year plan to impact homelessness in October, 2009. The plan included a strategic framework that identified existing needs, outlined necessary action steps and listed community-wide objectives. Two years later, the Mayor’s Committee on Homelessness celebrates some of the following successes of the two-year action plan:

    · 2,249 individuals/families housed (97 of whom are veterans)
    · 614 individuals participate in rapid-rehousing efforts
    · 151 new housing units created
    · 962 housing units rehabilitated
    · 103 households achieved homeownership
    · 1,223 individuals employed and/or received employment assistance
    · 300+ individuals attended financial literacy classes
    · 158 individuals participated in savings plans
    · 510 individuals received budget counseling
    · 389 individuals attended skills success classes
    · 2,470 individuals received childcare assistance for employment
    · 3,191 individuals received tax assistance through the VITA program
    · 2,680 individuals accessed day center services
    · 3,685 individuals received PATH (Pathways and Transitions from Homelessness) case management.

    The most compelling and significant success of the two-year action plan is the increased collaboration between homeless service providers, local government, businesses and community members to bring about effective change in the community. Together, we can make a difference and make strides in the effort to end homelessness in Billings.

    Notable Homeless Initiative Accomplishments:

  • Billings Area Resource Network: Comprised of 33 service and resource providers working toward a mission of increasing and improving homeless service delivery in Billings.

  • Project Homeless Connect: Annual one-day, one-stop event based on a nationally implemented best practice of offering comprehensive support and services for people at-risk or are experiencing homelessness. The event was held in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The 2012 event is scheduled for January 27th.

  • Billings Metro VISTA Project: Since 2007, 27 AmeriCorps*VISTA members have been working on poverty and homeless issues in Billings.

  • Business Consortium Project: Through funding received through federal appropriation, the Community Development Division awarded $300,000 in financing to support a housing / social enterprise business for job training and employment of residents. Rimrock Foundation in conjunction with The Salvation Army is providing housing combined with wrap around services to six chronically homeless men. The men are gaining vocational training and job experience through The Salvation Army’s Bokashi Composting Center, located one block from the housing units.

  • Housing First Project: Through a collaborative project with Interfaith Hospitality Network, the Community Development Division facilitated the development of four transitional housing units for homeless families in January 2010.

  • Community Garden & Food Security Initiative: As part of the Billings Metro VISTA Project in support of the efforts to implement Welcome Home Billings, a Community Garden and Food Security Initiative was created to address the issue of food insecurity in vulnerable populations in Billings. The initiative aims to provide homeless and low-income residents increased access to fresh, nutritious foods and the skills and knowledge of how to grow and prepare that food.

  • Spare Change for Real Change: Established as a fundraising and public education campaign, “Spare Change for Real Change” is an alternative to the short-term solution of giving to panhandlers. Donations to Spare Change for Real Change provide long-term solutions for those in need. The 2012 Purple 5K race in support of Spare Change for Real Change is scheduled for March 12th. For more information visit:

    How YOU can help:

  • Project Homeless Connect – January 27, 2011- Donate hygiene kits, supplies or provide finance support. Monetary donations can be sent to Community Development Division, 510 N. Broadway, Billings, MT 59101 (Checks can be writing to the City of Billings with Project Homeless Connect in the memo line)
    - Volunteer at the event
    - Host a presentation regarding the event at your group or organization.

  • Educate yourself-

  • Spare Change for Real Change- Participate in the Purple 5K and Downtown Crit Race

  • Support local service providers- Give your time and your resources to organizations that are committed to providing long-term solutions for homelessness.

    For more information, please contact:

    Lynda Woods
    CD Program Coordinator
    (406) 657-8284

    Community Development Division
    510 N. Broadway
    Billings, MT 59101

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Remembering the Homeless Among Us

See the Billings Gazette Editorial regarding remembering the homeless on the shortest day of the year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Poverty - Highest Level in 15 Years...

This article, posted via the New York Times, made me start thinking about the impact on poverty in Billings. As the nation continues in recession, more people are unemployed, without healthcare, and are losing access to housing.

The Billings area, typically, lags behind national economic downfalls. However, most local service providers are experiencing 35% to 50% increases in the needs for services.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Housing Conditions in Billings Montana

In Billings, the median home price is $177,500. A family earning the median household income of $48,470 cannot afford the median priced home. Instead, the same family could afford about 40% of the homes on the housing market. Unfortunately these lower-priced homes need improvements that make them too costly for median income home buyers. In addition, 40% of households in Billings earned less than $35,000, and 15% earned less than $15,000. In these situations, families living paycheck to paycheck are unable to afford the improvements required to make their homes decent and safe.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Outta sight, outta mind