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Commissioners give initial support to low-barrier emergency women's shelter

Posted at 7:02 AM, Dec 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 12:01:02-05

HELENA — At their Monday night meeting, the Helena City Commission voted in favor of the emergency women's shelter Ruth's Place by a vote of four to one.

The permit, as approved, does not have a hard end date but allows for regular reviews at the commission level with public participation.

Good Samaritan announced its plans for the emergency women's shelter in November at the final meeting of the year for the emergency housing working group.

The conditional use permit describes the shelter as a low barrier, which means the women who stay there would not need to be sober or compliant with treatment or other programs.

Commission meeting

It would be open from 4 pm to 9 am between October 1st and May 1st and could sleep 26 women. The executive director of Good Samaritan, Theresa Ortega, said they hope to open the shelter in February.

Good Samaritan has also said the cost to get the 47,000-square-foot facility up and running already exceeds $100,000. That includes hiring additional staff, renovating bathrooms, updating the fire suppression system, and adding security features.

The permit was approved four to one, with Commissioner Sean Logan being the only commissioner to vote against it.