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  Comments (11) Total Friday Apr. 18, 2014
 
Daines Tours Samaritan House
Congressman visits Northwest Montana’s largest homeless shelter, meets with veterans
Web, a homeless veteran living at the Samaritan House, laughs with Steve Daines, R-Mont., about his smile. In the coming weeks, Web will be receiving a new set of teeth with help from veteran's benefits. Residents of the Samaritan House receive benefits after 60 days. - Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon
The man called Web, a homeless veteran, was surprised to see a U.S. Congressman stroll into the Samaritan House’s dining room for lunch, but he was eager to talk about his smile.

“I get all new teeth in a week and a half,” Web said, bearing a grin that revealed rows of missing teeth, which will cost nearly $5,000 to repair.

The visiting statesman was U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., who wanted to visit Kalispell’s homeless shelter on a recent tour of Northwest Montana.

Samaritan House’s executive director, Chris Krager, explained that Web, who asked that the Beacon not disclose his full name, would qualify for full dental insurance through a partnership with Veterans Affairs after spending 60 days at the shelter, a transitional housing facility located at 124 Ninth Ave. W.

“He’s going to look great, and he deserves it,” Krager said, adding that Web had arranged a place to live, which is the end goal of the Samaritan House.

“When people come here they are no longer homeless,” Krager said. “The goal is to keep it that way, and case management is the integral component to that.”

With 65 rooms, including an additional 23 units specifically for veterans, the Samaritan House is the largest refuge for homeless men, women and children in Northwest Montana. Founded in 1991, the facilities are drug and alcohol free and provide free residence, meals, clothing and other assistance for anyone in need.

Samaritan House averages 100 percent occupancy throughout the year in the shelter and transitional living units. The staff also helps with housing and employment searches and other practical aspects that can lead to a successful fresh start, and Krager said in 2013 the shelter had an 86 percent success rate.

In 2013, the Samaritan House served more than 1,300 local homeless people and provided more than 34,800 meals.

Daines, the son of a Marine, thanked Web and others for their service.

“We need to continue to support programs like the Samaritan House that deliver services to people in need, and doing it in a highly effective way,” Daines said.

The Flathead Valley consistently has the third largest homeless population in the state, according to the 2014 State of Homelessness Report, with nearly 800 people who faced homelessness in Kalispell last year. Most are “episodically homeless,” meaning they’ve suddenly fallen on hard times without a safety net.

Krager said a federal HUD grant for homeless programs that the shelter relies on was cut this year as part of the sequestration spending cuts, for which Daines voted, reducing the $64,000 grant by nearly $8,000.

“We are going to feel that, but it will work out,” Krager said. “This community is so amazing and willing to step up.”

Daines pledged to represent veterans, and Krager said the biggest battle is raising awareness.

“One of my most important roles in Washington is to make sure that homeless veterans have a voice,” Daines said.

A fundraiser to benefit the Samaritan House is scheduled for April 12. The 7th Annual “Cowboy Up” for Samaritan House Auction, Dinner and Concert will be held on at Gardner's Auction just south of Kalispell on U.S. Highway 93 South, with doors opening at 5 p.m. Tickets for the benefit are available for purchase at the door. A pig roast dinner is included and live music will be provided by Smart Alex.
 
On 02-21-14, Vud commented....
“...Krager said a federal HUD grant for *homeless programs that the shelter relies on* was cut this year as part of the sequestration spending cuts, for which Daines voted, reducing the $64,000 grant by nearly $8,000.” “—————Thank you Mr. Daines.  keep up the good work—————”  ???…
 
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