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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

MT homeless population increase leads the nation

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Monday, April 8, 2024   

A new report shows Montana has the nation's most rapidly rising homeless population. Advocates for more affordable housing call the situation critical.

One Kalispell-based shelter is asking for state funding to expand, and do what it can to help.

The most recent Annual Homelessness Assessment Report shows Montana saw a 551% increase in its unsheltered population, the steepest rise in the country between 2007 and 2023.

Kalispell-based Samaritan House Executive Director Chris Krager said he feels the pinch every night.

"I like to think we can handle it," said Krager. "We're trying to address it. Samaritan House, we see between 95 and 105 people every night."

That's capacity for Samaritan House, which Krager said has been full every night for a decade - and often has to help people find other options.

He has asked for state funds to expand the facility, which would double its occupancy.

In addition to building single and multi-family housing, Samaritan House also plans to create housing for veterans.

Krager said they often experience mental health issues along with homelessness. The report shows Montana was one of only four states with an increase in homeless veterans.

"Kalispell is the largest city in Montana with no dedicated homeless veteran housing," said Krager. "So, we're going to fix that. The reason this is serious is because the nature of homelessness in Montana - certain times of the year, it could be fatal. So, we want to really be on our game, especially if it's cold out."

More than 30% of people in Montana's homeless shelters reported a mental health and/or substance use disorder in 2022. The report shows in some shelters, that number is nearly two-thirds.




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