There Goes The Neighborhood, Great Falls?


Editors note: the following is an article we received today from a Great Falls resident who for obvious reasons has asked to remain anonymous.

Thirty years ago when I bought my home and was head of the youngest family on our block, the old-timers living nearby imagined, and some so-stated, “There goes the neighborhood!”

Fast forward to June 6, 2019, all those former community members are long gone, some of them, first to rest homes then, finally, deceased. My home is by far the best groomed, nicest home on our block although we have three other neighbors who do pretty well maintaining their domiciles.

Presently one of our neighborhood homes is vacant, neglected since its forfeiture by foreclosure in December, last year, the third home on our block to be foreclosed upon; another is vacant and neglected for more than a year now. A third has become a Federal Transport rental, I mention their name only because the poor quality of their rentals and their management of them is so well known.

Thirty years ago you couldn’t have convinced me that, today, we’d have homeless people living in cars on our street, that other vehicles, long abandoned to our avenue, are unlicensed, filled with trash, and vacant. Presently, and since last Thursday, a homeless female, probably between forty and fifty years old, and her pet cats, has been living in an old, tan, unlicensed Pontiac van, first next to our home at the vacant foreclosure next door, now in front of the rental on the corner. Both tail-lights are broken out of her van, and one of the headlights.

Using an assortment of dirty blankets and tarps, she shelters herself from the sun during daylight hours, from the cold at night.

She has no formal restroom but utilizes the street, leaving her “toilet paper” where she drops it. she has no facility for food storage or cooking, and no trash service or, as already mentioned, indoor plumbing.

The Great Falls Police Department knows she’s there and does nothing, claiming they can’t do anything about her vehicle, even though it’s unlicensed and uninsured, unless it stays in the same spot for more than 72 hours at a time. This law is actually to the woman’s benefit: First of all, she’s legally granted a place to park for 72 hours at a time; secondly, it prompts her to move as her toilet and bidet overflow!

Frequent visitors to our block are Montana Department of Corrections Parole Division employees, evidently checking on some of their wards living in the rental on the corner. Apparently, through them, members of the Great Falls Police Department then visit this residence upon contact. Ducking their new prisoners’ heads into the back seat of patrol cars, they make arrests but, since our under-staffed local jail and prison population presently and for some time now exceeds its legal head-count, a bondsman returns them to our neighborhood where they stay until their next arrest and re-release.

Drug paraphernalia is carelessly strewn around our neighborhood, much of it in the alleys behind our homes but some out front as well…

…our trash dumpsters overflow with hoards re-deposited weekly; adults, mainly males, openly and visibly urinate daylight and dark, on lawns, in alleys, and on the sidewalk. So much for Great Falls City “code enforcement,” and not because local code enforcers are unaware of these problems: they’re brought up-to-date more often than weekly yet do nothing.

Some of our local policemen and women, when confronted with the situation in our neighborhood, tell us, “You do something about it; it’s your neighborhood,” almost as if they’re part of a plan to make sure our community fails. Others, and I’ve heard this several times recently, believe our police-men and women are afraid and, therefore, avoid this type of situation.

For us….and we’ve loved our home, our business, our church and our town….the obvious thing to do is to move to live elsewhere. This isn’t what I planned when I bought my home those many years ago. It was going to be the last place I lived but things change.

Signed – A Concerned, Frustrated Citizen



Reader interactions

7 Replies to “There Goes The Neighborhood, Great Falls?”

  1. Theresa Farrar June 6, 2019 at 4:47 PM

    If others were aware of where this area is, maybe we all could help in the clean up. Otherwise….we are left to guess! I’m sorry that this happening. I’ve never seen anywhere in Great Falls, in that severe of default.


  2. You only need to drive through the lower north & south sides to see this. Between central and 8th Avenue N, from 9th st to the river is covered with garbage, vacant & poorly maintained homes.
    The rentals near my own home are a source of noise late at night, drug deals in the open, and junk vehicles alongs streets & allies.
    I live 4 blocks north of GFHS.


  3. Keyword that stuck out to me. CHURCH. If you worship the same God I do, then it’s time to believe who He is and what He can do. If My people who are called by My name would humble themselves, pray, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will heal their land.


    1. Travis, while i have faith that God has a plan for me, this was not an invitation to preach gospel… We need to fix things with action, not prayer


  4. The area surrounding Longfellow is the same….


  5. Travis L, I’m a life-long Christian who faithfully and regularly has attended my church for more than sixty years. I find your response here, even though it quotes Scripture, inappropriate. Certainly, Christians should pray, first for their leaders, both civil and religious, then for others, law-breakers included. Legal retribution is supported by biblical example and, even though the New Testament good news is that of grace to sinners, it doesn’t disavow the Old Testament pattern of punishing wrongdoers. If you follow the New Testament only, turn to Romans 13: Paul insists that God invested the governing authorities with a sword, and that Christians are commanded to render to the government what properly belongs to it. We can also infer from Scripture that giving our governing body the responsibility of punishing wrongdoers is what the Lord intended. Even Jesus implied that God gave Pilate authority to execute law-breakers, even when he had an innocent person in his charge. Consider the Old Testament account of David and Goliath: Even though David announced (prayed) his effort “in the name of the Lord Almighty, he struck the giant down and cut off his head!” Prayer requires action. Many Christians treat their prayer lives as if they’re rubbing a magical lamp, asking the genie inside to grant them their wish, but prayer is a demonstration of human dependence upon God and is our act of faith, a faith that requires the action of obedience to all of God’s Word.
    “I remembered the Lord and my prayer rose to Him…Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs!” (Jonah 2:8). The idols we often cling to are our own foolish notions.


  6. It’s hard to watch, but we live in a different place since we were young. I grew up on the lower South side, I bought my parents house, and now I try to improve the situation. I can’t change the world, but I can make it happier!


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