Amidst neighbor concerns, Boise City Council approves project for homeless veterans

The Boise City Council approved an application for rezoning Tuesday night for a new apartment complex aimed at giving veterans who are currently homeless a place to live. Other elements of the project were previously approved by Boise’s Planning and Zoning Commission. 

The Valor Pointe project includes 27 units, with 26 units earmarked for veterans (the remaining unit is set aside for a full time property caretaker). 

“This project is designed for veterans experiencing homelessness in our neighborhood using the VASH Voucher Program,” project developer John Vance with non-profit orginization Northwest Real Estate Capital Corp. said. “There will be space for VA caseworkers to be on site.”

The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program is a federal program through Housing and Urban Development gives rental assistance to qualifying veterans. That program requires the project be dedicated to veterans housing for 40 years, according to Vance.

The project at State St. and Fargo St. would also include a therapeutic plaza for residents and a flag display along the front of the building.

The building would have room for parking for 22 stalls, which required a waiver from the city for a parking reduction. Vance cited data that less than 20% of target residents own a car.

But Pete Barnes, who told the council he is the president of the Veterans Park Neighborhood Association said he is not in favor of the project. Barnes is not listed in that role by the city, but Barnes said during a public meeting officials for the association didn’t reply and he and other neighbors intended to form a new association.

After showing a map of bars, tobacco sales businesses and an adult entertainment club in the area, Barnes said it wasn’t the right place for the project.

“We need to put our veterans in a place that they can succeed – and this is not that place right now,” Barnes said. “This is not the place for homeless veterans that are battling with a serious addiction. Only a couple blocks down from this location we saw the stabbing of six children. These signs are pointing to not an appropriate location for people who are dealing with homelessness.”

About ten other residents testified, including Carrie Ridenour who lives adjacent to the project. She said the proposed parking would cause issues for the neighborhood and would be dependent on residents storing vehicles on the street.

Site plan

“I admire what the city is trying to do in housing our veterans,” another neighbor, Susan Meckelson said. “But I think the location is wrong and we are setting them up to fail.”

“This rezone reflects our longterm vision for this corridor, which reflects housing and mixed-use development along this street that is served by transit,” Boise City Council President Lauren McLean said. “We want to see projects that allow people to walk outside of their home and catch high-frequency transit every 15 minutes.”

The city and other agencies are working on a bundle of strategies to build a transit-focused corridor along State St. to help ease increasing traffic along the stretch.

[Deep Dive series: State Street could see new transit corridor with aid from CCDC]

Ultimately all members of the council voted to approve the project.

After the vote was recorded, Barnes got up to leave and yelled out.

“First veteran that dies on that street, it’s on you.”

After the meeting, Barnes told BoiseDev he felt the project is dangerous.

“They want to put high density on State St., and it will be the only development (like that) along that corridor,”  Barnes said he and other members of his group will consider whether to appeal the decision to district court.

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Don Dayhttp://linkedin.com/in/donday
Don has been covering news in Boise for 20 years. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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