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Poverty Impact Initiatives
Homelessness
In 2006, Mayor Ron Tussing was asked to lead an initiative to develop a plan to address the needs of the homeless in Billings. The Mayor formed a 20 member coalition, the Mayor's Committee on Homelessness, to develop and implement a plan. In 2010, Mayor Tom Hanel fully embraced the initiative and has been a constant supporter of the many programs and activities sponsored by the Committee. 

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In October 2009, the City Council adopted Welcome Home Billings ; a ten-year plan to impact homelessness. The completed plan and supporting documents can be found online.To date, over 300 cities across the nation have committed to implementing plans to impact homelessness. Over 50 local organizations and 600 individuals have been collectively working on implementing the plan to impact homelessness.

Initiatives & Innovations
  • Billings Community Connect - One day each year, dozens of organizations gather to provide immediate access to services such as housing, food, clothing, employment, medical care and legal aid.
  • Faith Engagement - The Faith Engagement initiative proposes to develop a sustainable model that will create faith community collaboration towards the effort of impacting the needs of people living in poverty in Billings.
  • Homeless Play - The City sponsored Project Homelessness, in partnership with Venture Theatre, to create a play depicting true stories of children experiencing homelessness in the Billings area.
  • Community Gardens and Food Security - Efforts to increase access to nutritious food and support organizations providing for those in need.
  • Illuminate Poverty -This initiative is designed to raise social and public awareness about poverty and homelessness in our community.
  • Social Enterprise - Furthering financial sustainable innovations targeting homelessness through business enterprise and economic opportunity.
  • Spare Change for Real Change - Creating an alternative to giving to panhandlers, this project provides opportunities to support change through the Purple 5k, Downtown Crit and spare change collection.
  • Billings Metro VISTA Project - AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America members work to create or expand community based programs, services and systems to impact poverty and homelessness.

Housing Development
City staff are dedicated to bringing additional resources for special projects to enhance the overall homeless initiative. To this end, $800,000 has been generated to support the development of two housing initiatives to serve those experiencing homelessness. Additional information on the following projects can be found online.
  • Housing First Project - A total of $500,000 was dedicated to support a Housing First project developed by Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley, formerly known as the Interfaith Hospitality Network. The project was designed to determine the cost-benefit of housing homeless individuals first prior to social service linkage.
  • Business Consortium Project - $300,000 was dedicated to Rimrock Foundation's development of a project to support a combined housing and business practices to serve the homeless. Social enterprises apply market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose, maximizing business success.

Downtown Resource Map & Notepad
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The following documents were developed as part of an overall effort to impact homelessness in Billings, MT.  The Mayor's Committee on Homelessness and AmeriCorps VISTA members through the Billings Metro VISTA Project facilitated development and design in partnership with Allegra Printing.

  • The Emergency Resource Map is a portable, user friendly guide that quickly connects individuals and families experiencing homelessness with downtown Billings community resources. The map illustrates direct access points for shelter, food, clothing, health care, legal aid, restroom, shower and laundry facilities.
  • The Resource Notepad is a tool designed for case managers, organizations and individuals to quickly make referrals to community resources providing direct services to anyone within the following major categories:  Food Assistance & Household Needs, Housing, Transportation, Healthcare, Shelter, Employment Services, Education Opportunities, Financial Assistance, Children’s Services, and Addiction Treatment Options, and other forms of help.

First printing: supported through the City of Billings and RiverStone Health. 4,000 maps and 120 notepads were distributed. Each notepad contains 25 service guides, resulting in the distribution of 7,000 total maps and notepads combined.

Second printing: sponsored by Montana Rescue Mission and HRDC - District 7. 10,000 maps and 500 notepads / 12,500 service guides were distributed.

Third printing: sponsored by the Center for Children & Families, Rimrock and the City of Billings. 10,000 maps and 500 notepads /12,500 guides were distributed.

Current edition: sponsored by the St. Vincent’s Employee SOS Giving Campaign and the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council TRAC program. 7,500 maps and 120 notepads/3,000 service guides were distributed.

Overall reach of the project to date includes the printing and distribution of 31,500 total maps and 30,750 service guides!