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The Human Resources Development Council had 81 people make use of its offer to house people hotel rooms during last week’s cold snap, according to a news release, and will continue to use that option until and likely after its interim shelter opens later in November.

“Overall, we’re a little nervous,” said President and CEO Heather Grenier. “Last weekend when we did the rooms for the cold spell, we needed 81 rooms. The highest number occupancy we had last season on any one given night was 77.”

HRDC has long known that COVID-19 has forced people out of their homes and into cars, RVs or living on the street, but this is the first concrete indicator that there are more homeless people in Bozeman than before the pandemic.

HRDC’s interim shelter facility on Wheat Drive was originally scheduled to open on Nov. 1, but a delay in the installation of the fire suppression system in that facility meant that opening date needed to be pushed back. The new target date for opening is Nov. 20.

The expected occupancy for that facility is between 55 and 60 people, Grenier said. Once that opens, hotel rooms will still likely be used to house people at a higher risk and families who need to isolate or quarantine.

“It’s going to be tough to have enough room for everybody, even with our new space,” Grenier said. “In a sense, (COVID-19) sheds light on a lot of the things that we all knew were challenges for our community ... It’s really shown light on those things and, in some way, exacerbated some of those challenges. More than anything, it’s shown how critical the need is in our community for a year-round shelter.”

And that year-round shelter is in the works, though it won’t be ready anytime in 2020. Griffin Place is HRDC’s long-term plan for a year-round shelter in the future.

Grenier said the schematic design of the Griffin Place facility was recently finished. The next steps will be design documents and continuing to work with the city of Bozeman, which is working on improvements to Griffin Drive and will connect the shelter to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure.

HRDC’s winter facilities run almost entirely on donations and support, Grenier said. Information on donating to and volunteering with HRDC can be found at the organization’s website, thehrdc.org.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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