Home A project of States Newsroom
Flathead County Commission’s response to homelessness was shocking, appalling


Flathead County Commission’s response to homelessness was shocking, appalling

Feb 04, 2023 | 6:54 am ET
By Casey Malmquist
Flathead County Commission’s response to homelessness was shocking, appalling
A view of U.S. Highway 93 in Kalispell taken in 2007 (Photo by Katie Brady via Wikimedia Commons | CC-BY-SA 2.0).

The recent letter issued by the Flathead County Commissioners caught me completely flat footed.

Surely, I thought, this is satire, possibly pulled from the pages of “The Onion.”

No, it appears our esteemed commissioners have delivered one of the most ignorant, misguided and repugnant statements conceivable.

Devoid of any supporting data or facts, or slightest bit of compassion, the commissioners are suggesting some sort of organized conspiracy among a group of disassociated people, who simply share the common plight of being homeless. To our commissioners these individuals are purposely and intentionally “unmoored” and have chosen a “lifestyle” of gaming the “enabling” system of the homeless support efforts and infrastructure. This could not be more absurd. This cruel and heartless reasoning is yet another example of the ignorance inherent in victim blaming.

If one were to extend this illogic reasoning, the commissioners should also take aim at our local hospitals and health care system. While providing their “enabling” services, our health care system is predictably attracting droves of sick and injured individuals to our community.

Homelessness is a human problem that is playing out on the national, state, and community level. It goes far beyond being simply a Kalispell problem. One cannot solve any problem until we identify and understand the root cause of the problem. Providing support services for those unfortunate souls that find themselves unmoored from society, and without a home or any foundation for a normal and productive existence, is not the cause of creating or attracting homeless individuals to our communities.

Let us look at dysfunctional governance, income equality, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and the dissolution of the family structure as the likely root causes of homelessness.

County commissioners, surely you can do better than this. Surely, we, your constituents and including that segment of the population that finds themselves in the utter despair of homelessness, deserve better from you.

Commissioners, please open your hearts, exercise your minds, and dig in and do your job. Let us all collectively recognize this problem for what it is and work towards a productive and humane solution. For those of you reading this, please reach out and support the wonderful, caring, and compassionate organizations in the Flathead Valley that are serving and supporting the people and families that find themselves in the ugly reality of homelessness.

Casey Malmquist lives in the Flathead area.