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Missoula’s COVID-19 non-congregational shelter remains open

Missoula's COVID-19 non-congregational shelter remains open

MISSOULA — The City of Missoula bought the Sleepy Inn Motel in April 2020 for $1.1 million to act as a non-congregant shelter for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The facility does not experience much downtime as 350 people were served for 20 months at a cost of $50,000 per month.

“The fear was that if we hadn’t provided them with a place to get away from everyone and the general public, we would have had a lot more contamination,” explains Missoula County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) director Adrianus Beck.

Megan Mannering/MTN News

The unmerged Sleepy Inn shelter in Missoula has served 350 people for 20 months.

Beck made plans to close the Sleepy Inn just before the holidays, but within a few days, the… ommicron variant changed the COVID-19 landscape across the country. With the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) registering approximately 140 new COVID-19 cases each day, the need for the Sleepy Inn has never been greater.

“As our community cases increase, so do our references to the unjoined shelter,” Beck told MTN News.

Despite the motel’s dilapidated exterior, the daily expenses of running the shelter don’t come cheap.

“We have security costs, obviously utility costs to heat and water the facility, and then we also have personnel costs that allow us to take care of the individuals who are there, but also the facility itself,” explains Beck out.

Sleepy Inn

Megan Mannering/MTN News

The Sleepy Inn non-merged hideaway on West Broadway in Missoula.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) foots the bill for the Sleppy Inn through its pandemic-born program. “So unjoined shelter is an activity that communities are eligible to request reimbursement in response to COVID-19,” Beck noted.

FEMA will refund the county 100% of the Sleepy Inn’s operating costs, but that deal won’t last forever.

“The most recent presidential directive has that funding until April 1, Beck said, adding that the need for the Sleepy Inn as a non-merged shelter will be evaluated as the pandemic unfolds in Missoula County, regardless of whether or not federal funding is available. is.

“Certainly, as we go through the winter months here — as long as we continue to see high numbers of cases in the community — it’s probably a safe bet that the unmerged shelter will continue to operate. But now that temperatures are starting to moderate and hopefully as our community numbers start to drop, I think it’s reasonable for us to start looking at how we can shut that down.” – Missoula Co, OES Director Adriane Beck