Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there's been increase in homeless people around Yellowstone County. Some are unsheltered due to the fear of being in a crowded shelter with the spread of coronavirus, and others aren't able to find resources due to some local services being reduced, according to press release from RiverStone Health.

In an effort to make sure no one has to suffer in the cold Montana weather, more than a dozen organizations are coming together to open the Off The Streets shelter at 3311 Second Avenue North, in the former Western Inn Motel.

More than 20 rooms will be available from 7pm to 7am daily at Off The Streets, with guests able to use the shelter when they cannot immediately be served by other shelters, according to the press release.

We cannot go through another winter where we lose people on the streets because they weren’t warm, safe and dry. This has been an amazing group. They have been troubleshooting and collaborating on this community response. -Shawn Hinz, RiverStone Health vice president of Public Health Services

The shelter will offer overnight awake staff and security, and during the day Off The Streets will guide guests to needed community services, according to the press release.

In addition to the 20 shelter rooms at Off The Streets, another 20 rooms will be offered to those needing to quarantine while awaiting tests results, or have tested positive for COVID-19 and are without any other options for shelter. According to the press release, "the people in quarantine and isolation will stay in their rooms 24/7 until healthcare and public health authorities clear them to leave."

Off the Streets is a project of the Yellowstone County Continuum of Care. Partners working on Off the Streets include: Housing Authority of Billings, District 7 HRDC, Billings Clinic, Community Crisis Center, St. Vincent de Paul, Montana Rescue Mission, Downtown Business Association, Salvation Army, Tumbleweed, Riverstone Health and Besaw Integrity Consulting. -courtesy of RiverStone Health press release