While Interfaith Sanctuary reports that it is full and the Boise Rescue Mission begins their “winter mode” of laying mats on their dining hall floor for overflow, city leaders perpetuate the myth that shelters have room for all homeless citizens. As policy, the faith-based mission states it will “never turn anyone away,” hence the myth can be forever perpetuated.
The clear and present religious agenda at the rescue mission repels many who might otherwise take a mat on their floor over a cold concrete alleyway. That our recently re-elected mayor and council, in official capacity, force a choice between jail time or this environment is unethical at best, unconstitutional at worst.
The mayor and council also declare future Housing-First programs as their priority, while 150 citizens were freezing at Cooper Court. Shelters are necessary for a “continuum of care,” as are Salt Lake City inspired housing-first programs — still in discussion. Neither nor both solve immediate needs.
The Boise/Ada County Homeless Coalition and other groups will gladly work with city and county leaders to address the continuum of need — prioritizing immediate relief for citizens on the street — when leaders become willing to engage with citizen groups poised for action. See homelesscoalitionboise.com.
Note: The city of Boise closed down the Cooper Court area earlier this month.
Barbara Kemp, president, Boise/Ada County Homeless Coalition