New Homeless Shelter to Be Built in Kalispell

A Ray of Hope plans to construct shelter for women and children

A new homeless shelter is being developed near downtown Kalispell for women and children.

A Ray of Hope, a nonprofit organization that has operated a second-hand store and homeless shelter in Kalispell since the late 1990s, has received approval from the city to build a new shelter that will be able to accommodate up to 15 women and children for varying lengths of time.

The shelter will be two stories and roughly 1,344 square feet and located at 106 Fifth Ave. W. across the street from the current Ray of Hope shelter and near the Hope Thrift Store. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have two to three staff members and at least one person on-duty at all times, according to the organization.

The shelter will replace a dilapidated house, known as the Busey House, that is on the National Register of Historic Places but that has been vacant and in worsening conditions for years, according to city staff. The cost to repair the site was too great, so the building will be torn down, city planners say.

At Monday’s meeting in City Hall, the city council unanimously approved a conditional use permit to operate a shelter in the new development.

“They have proven themselves to be good neighbors and good helpful people for folks in our community who are in need,” Councilor Jim Atkinson said.

City planners said the neighbors were all notified of the shelter’s potential development and there was no opposition that emerged.

The Flathead Valley consistently has the third largest homeless population in the state, according to the 2014 State of Homelessness Report, with nearly 800 people who faced homelessness in Kalispell last year.