[Hpn] Missoula, MT - New housing for homeless redesigned to fit neighborhood - The Missoulian - November 08, 2003

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Sat, 8 Nov 2003 07:12:26 -0500

New housing for homeless redesigned to fit neighborhood

By DONNA SYVERTSON - The Missoulian - November 08, 2003

Missoula, MT - A shift in plans for a replacement for the Joseph
Residence means a return to public hearings and a zoning change.

The area where the Poverello Center and the Missoula Housing
Authority want to build the new residence is already zoned for
three large barrack-style buildings that would sit behind Sherwin
Williams just off Reserve Street.

However, said Peter Hance, MHA's executive director, "they don't
fit in with the neighborhood."

Instead, he and Joseph Bischof, executive director of the
Poverello Center, want to build eight duplexes and a community
center that would better suit the neighborhood.

"That means that we have to go through the process all over
again," said Hance.

The Joseph Residence provides housing and services for homeless
families and helps them make the transition into permanent
housing. The current building on Rattlesnake Drive - formerly a
nursing home - is aging, has little private space and a lot of
common areas, features that don't prepare families for
independent living.

The proposed duplexes would have a two-bedroom apartment
downstairs and three-bedroom apartment upstairs.

Each unit will
have a kitchen, living room, dining room, laundry facilities,
bathroom, storage area and a porch.

The community center will
have offices, a nursing station, a day care, meeting space, a
full kitchen and bathrooms.

The design, explained Andrea Davis, MHA's planning and
development coordinator, will help families get used to what
traditional housing and neighborhoods feel like.

"We're hoping this will be a better neighborhood with
smaller-scale buildings that will match up with what the
surrounding neighborhood looks like," she added.

Going through the bureaucratic process, Hance said, means the
plan may not be approved until March. That means construction
would start sometime in July. If it's not approved, they may have
to wait a year. But they don't mind.

"It's just a public procedure but it could take an excruciating
amount of time," Hance said. Housing officials also will hold
meetings in the neighborhood.

"I have confidence," Bischof said. "We'll meet with the neighbors
and get people's ideas and thoughts about things we haven't
thought of."

Bischof and Hance met every Thursday for two hours last summer,
working on the design concept with Oz Architects and

The plan they came up with is for the Missoula
Housing Authority to buy the current Joseph Residence (which it
has), build a new facility and maintain it for those who use it.
MHA then would decide what to do with the old Joseph Residence.

The Poverello Center, which serves adults without children, will
continue to pay for the 24-hour-a-day staffing, supplies and
other items and programs necessary for the shelter. Among those
will be programs necessary to help families get back into
traditional housing.

The Housing Authority will provide the shell, Bischof said, while
the Poverello board will have to provide the furniture: 16 of

"We're working on funding for that," he added.

He wants to make sure that enough money is raised to cover
repairs needed in the future, like when a stove breaks down.

Bischof estimates the new project will cost somewhere around
$450,000 to $500,000.

"There's absolutely nothing like it in town," Hance said.

Reporter Donna Syvertson can be reached at 523-5361 or at

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