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.


  1. I think these apartments should all have private outdoor spaces included. Veterans, more than most people, may well need to spend time outdoors without going down stairs or a hall. I hope the apartments get a redesign.

  2. As the “Official” president of the Veterans Park Neighborhood Association, I have been in contact with Mr. Barnes and we hope to work with both him and our neighbors, and the city, to mitigate and possibly find a better solution to this proposed development as it continues to move forward.
    For the record, the VETERANS Park Neighborhood Association has, as the name implies, always supported veterans. The concern that our neighbors have is that although the project has good intentions, the specifics- the height of the building and size and scope of it, are not really in character with the neighborhood which is mostly low-rise buildings and buisnesses along State Street, single family homes and smaller apartment complexes.

    • Todd,
      The goal of this project is to create a support group for veterans to build a better life. These are outlined to help with the disease of addiction, promote employment of the residence, and reimplement them to society. Please realize that it is not only the people in the unit that need parking but the vast amount of supporters that are needed on a daily basis. Neighbors in the community, specifically those that live directly next to the project) are finding it hard to believe that this project could not be scaled appropriately. They have asked for an overall 68% reduction in parking to the national average. By city code, the city council can not request more than a 30% reduction from the required amount (currently at 16 spaces -46% as Boise only required 30). Some neighbors have simply asked for the project to be scaled down (the property is only 0.48 acres). Thank you for reading and trying to understand why our community is objecting. Please read the minutes of the meeting for a full detail of the grievance of this project. You touch here on one small portion of the negligence the city has had in involving our community in this project. It is also our belief that our community will play an integral part of the failure or success of these individuals and we are currently ill-prepared to help. We care about this project and even gave alternative locations to promote a bigger lot and safety to the veterans. City Council decided to ignore our concerns.

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