Homeless Service Providers Expand Resources During Winter Storm

Kalispell-based shelters are offering increased capacity and extended hours to keep residents indoors this weekend

By Denali Sagner
The Flathead Warming Center on North Meridian Road in Kalispell on Dec. 16, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Local nonprofits are increasing services for unhoused residents as the Flathead Valley prepares for a weekend of snow and sub-zero temperatures.

The Samaritan House, a Kalispell-based shelter, has created space for additional individuals and families who may need a warm place to stay. Residents have the ability to stay inside the shelter every day that temperatures drop below 32 degrees. 

Samaritan House Executive Director Chris Krager said, “It’s all about getting people in and keeping them safe.”

While the nonprofit typically houses 64 clients in its shelter program, Krager reported that 90 clients stayed at Samaritan House on Wednesday night.

The Samaritan House is leading the emergency response charge as a part of Collaborative Housing Solutions of Northwest Montana, a conglomerate of local homeless service providers who coordinate to deliver care to unhoused residents. The shelter is prepared to take in clients this weekend when other local providers run out of space.

The Flathead Warming Center, a cold weather shelter in Kalispell, will stay open all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday to provide meals and services to unhoused people. Typically, the shelter is only open at night during the weekends. The shelter will continue to be open every night this winter for those who need a place to sleep.

Flathead Warming Center Executive Director Tonya Horn encouraged people who may attempt to sleep outdoors or in their vehicles to come stay at the shelter.

“We’re really concerned about the people in a vehicle, because sometimes the vehicle will give you the false idea that you’re going to make it, but in these temperatures you’re not going to,” Horn said.

The Samaritan House and Flathead Warming Center will also be collaborating with other members of the Collaborative Housing Solutions of Northwest Montana conglomerate, including A Ray of Hope, the Abbie Shelter and Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana.

Both Krager and Horn said that year-round donations help their organizations serve the unhoused population during crises such as this one.

“Donations are really appreciated. We are really taking a step of faith to serve as many as we can, but it’s gonna cost us,” Krager said.

Horn encouraged community members to consider the Warming Center and other organizations “after this crisis.”

To contact the Samaritan House, call 406-257-5801. To contact the Flathead Warming Center, call 406-885-3042.

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