A man found dead inside a sleeping bag Tuesday afternoon near a West End business may have died from exposure, according to a press release from the Billings Police Department.
The man was found at about 1:20 p.m. on the 500 block of South 24th Street West. A maintenance worker discovered the body, said BPD Lt. Neil Lawrence.
"Police arrived on scene and discovered a male, approximately 50 years old, lying in some bushes next to a business complex," the release says. "It is believed that exposure was a factor and that the male was probably camping there."
The investigation is ongoing, according to BPD Sgt. Harley Cagle.
While temperatures on Tuesday reached as high as 37 in the Billings area, previous days haven't been as warm, said National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Chambers. Saturday saw windchill temperatures of minus 30, and Monday night saw single digits.
Emergency and temporary housing are available at both Montana Rescue Mission locations. The MRM Men's Shelter, located at 2822 Minnesota Avenue, has 98 beds. The Women and Children's Shelter, located at 2520 First Avenue N., has 115 beds.
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Results from the 2017 Point in Time homelessness survey organized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development showed 35.6 percent of Montana's homeless population live on the streets. Billings has the largest homeless population in Montana.
Statistics from the Montana Continuum of Care Coalition counted a homeless population of 431 for Billings, a 28.8 percent increase in Billings' homeless population from 2016.