The 14th annual Project Community Connect drew a full house at the Valentine Center on Latimer Street on Friday with events on both floors to provide services to those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.

Theresa Williams, Reaching Home coordinator explained the purpose of the annual event.

“This event is really to help connect with our neighbors in need,” said Williams. “Those folks who are homeless or in the verge of becoming homeless we’re here to provide connection, hope and as much help as we can. So often people who are experiencing homelessness or in poverty feel they’re on the margins of our community, and so this really brings together our neighbors, whether you’re a community member or housed or unhoused, everyone’s together under one roof. And I think it’s amazing that we can see everyone come together in a compassionate and non-judgmental environment.”

Williams explained just some of the services that attendees could access.

“We have Missoula Housing Authority, we have dental students, we even have court services, including municipal court and justice court, along with the Hope Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army, and we have a plethora of organizations here today.”

Representing the justice system, Judge Landee Holloway was happy with the response.

“Justice Court and Municipal Court are here today,” said Judge Holloway. “We are able to quash some warrants and maybe resolve some cases and we are working in conjunction with the city and county attorney’s offices in addition to the public defenders office. We’re offering credit for fines and we’re trying to save money for the taxpayers. Oftentimes when someone is arrested on a warrant they go into custody and it may be an issue that we simply didn’t know how to get a hold of that person. We’ve already been able to reinstate a driver’s license, eliminate some fines and the responses have been really positive.”

Holloway said in many cases people in the homeless population avoid any contact with the justice system, however this event helps to provide services in a non-threatening atmosphere.

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