A public hearing in Kalispell Thursday highlighted the need for more affordable housing and additional space for programs in the city for youth and seniors.
During Kalispell’s annual community needs assessment on how to spend federal grant money about two dozen Flathead Valley residents spoke about the general need for more space.
They said Kalispell needs more room; more room in homeless shelters, more room in the county jail, more space for libraries, senior centers, the arts.
"We are at capacity for all of our programs and services," said Connie Behe with ImagineIF Libraries. "At this point our spaces are so full that we have to remove a book every time we want to put a new book in."
"All of the programs are filled every night, it's really, really alarming at this point. And the number of families that are sleeping in cars with children breaks your heart, because it's a daily occurrence that we're all encountering," said Sherry Stevens with the United Way.
"We have used up all our jail space that we have, including our library," said Jennifer Root with the Flathead County Jail. "We've even turned our library into an overflow housing area."
Other attendees talked about opening a performing arts center, a county-wide lack of drug rehabilitation services and starting a veterinarian program at Flathead Valley Community College.
This feedback will help city officials decide where to funnel funding from two federal grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal, which determines funding amounts each year. Last year Montana received more than $6 million to fund 45 projects.
Locally, funding has gone toward the Flathead Youth Home, improvements to make the Flathead County Fairgrounds more accessible and to Flathead Valley Community College to expand the heavy equipment operator licensing program.
The city and partners apply for Community Development Block Grants next spring and Home Investment Partnership Program Grants on a rolling basis.
More information about community development block grants is available from the Montana Department of Commerce.