Most of the cost of moving an estimated 135 people out of the Cooper Court homeless camp around Interfaith Sanctuary in December was for staff overtime, a city spokesman told the Statesman Monday.
The bill for the event: $290,000. Of that, $192,000 was for 3,300 hours of overtime.
About $98,000 was spent on food, grocery and tax vouchers, U-haul rentals, tent rentals and waste disposal. Some of the money was also for hazardous waste removal, including drug paraphernalia.
Mike Journee, a spokesman for the city, said the health and safety of those living in the camp was in jeopardy due to fire hazards, drug crime, physical violence and large rodent colonies. A large number of bicycle parts were recovered from the site, believed to be remnants of a bicycle theft ring that was connected to a meth ring.
“This was a humanitarian effort. We were trying to help these people and save their lives,” Journee said. During the two months before it was cleared, that area became the top dispatch area for police, fire and paramedics.
He said the money to cover the costs will come from the general fund.
“There’s a contingency account set aside every year,” Journee said. “We’ll work with the departments to see what they can cover out of their curent budgets.”
Journee said costs were incurred from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17. The climax of the city’s efforts came Dec. 5, when residents were told they could no longer sleep in the tent city and were encouraged to spend the night at an emergency shelter set up at Fort Boise Community Center.
Going forward, the city is looking at a permanent supportive housing model known as Housing First. In that model, chronically homeless people are provided with homes, then provided with mental health and substance abuse support services.
Other priorities identified by community leaders who participated in five roundtable meetings organized by the mayor last year were: rapid re-housing of families that aren’t chronically homeless and increasing the inventory of affordable homes.