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Missoula's homeless resources after transient death

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The identity was released on Monday for the 53-year-old woman who was found dead outside St Patrick hospital.

Police say Ruth Castro of Seattle, WA is a transient, and the cause and manner of her death is unknown.
Castro was reportedly found unresponsive on an outdoor patio, and pronounced dead at the scene.
The investigation is still ongoing as officials await autopsy results.

Castro's death raises the question are there adequate resources available for homeless and transient people in Missoula.

The Poverello Center, the largest shelter in town, reports that it won't turn anyone away who is qualified to stay there, but the rules are strict.

The Center’s “dry policy” started back in 2008, meaning homeless people under the influence of drugs and alcohol are not allowed to stay.

"The people we were serving were telling us it was incredibly difficult for them to be around folks who were intoxicated,” said Eran Fowler-Pehan, Executive Director of the Poverello Center, “and also as our numbers grew, it became a safety risk for staff members."

She says the center helps to not only find shelter and medical care for the homeless, but to provide them resources including housing resources along with helping build resumes and find employment, as long as people are willing to work with them.

"It’s not our job, nor can we, meet the needs of every homeless person in the community of Missoula, that takes a much broader community approach, and I think overall the community understands that,” said Fowler-Pehan. “They're incredibly supportive of the services we do provide and helping us do that in the best way possible."

Missoula is currently in year three of its “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.”

Michael Moore, coordinator of the plan, is looking into the city's first “wet center,” specifically designed to house and care for homeless people that struggle with drugs and alcoholism.

"Having people outside, going into a Montana winter is less than ideal, and we want to do something about that,” said Moore. “That being said, coming up with a facility that can house people that are inebriated as a chronic state of their existence, is not the easiest thing in the world."

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