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Interfaith Sanctuary application moves forward with new layer of approval

Interfaith Sanctuary had to complete a few more steps before its proposal for a new shelter could come before Boise City Council for a final decision.

The nonprofit’s proposal to build a new, 200-bed community housing project with a day shelter in the former Salvation Army warehouse on State Street slowed down in the spring when nearby neighbors in the Veterans Park Neighborhood Association objected to the project and asked for more community meetings. Then, Mayor Lauren McLean put the project on hold so the city could convene a task force to study emergency shelter best practices and recommend a location. 

[Homelessness on wheels: Boise Police, social workers launch new initiative for those living in vehicles in downtown Boise]

Homeless services stakeholders will weigh in

As BoiseDev first told you earlier this month, the task force pivoted in its final meeting to general recommendations instead of a location due to the lack of available sites and the tight timeline.

Now, three months since the project was paused, the nonprofit resubmitted its application for a conditional use permit on September 28th. The task force also recommended Interfaith Sanctuary hold another neighborhood meeting on the project in October. In addition, the proposal had to go through an approval process with Our Path Home, an organization made up of dozens of government agencies and nonprofits who serve Ada County’s homeless population.

Our Path Home reviewed the project last month, but has not publicly announced its recommendation on the project.

Interfaith Sanctuary Executive Director Jodi Peterson-Stigers said she is pleased that the task force recommended that the project, or any future new emergency shelter projects, are vetted by stakeholders involved in addressing homelessness. She said Interfaith Sanctuary presented to the group on Monday and hopes to hear soon what their thoughts are.

“I thought that was a great thing that came out of the Shelter Better task force is the idea that we have these agencies that are all focused on the homeless population approve the project,” she said. “What was developed by the Shelter Better task force was to allowing Our Path Home to create an approval process and so that is being developed and we are going to guinea pig it for them.”

City spokesperson Lana Graybeal said even if Our Path Home didn’t approve of the project, it would not stop Interfaith Sanctuary from continuing with its application for a conditional use permit from the city to build the project.

What should emergency shelter in Boise look like?

McLean’s Chief of Staff presented the Shelter Better taskforce’s final recommendations at city council’s work session on Tuesday.

She noted that the report was the majority of the task force’s opinion, but not they did not reach a consensus. It included several general suggestions about how homeless shelters should operate, such as it should have a low barrier for entry, assist guests with finding permanent housing and collect data to understand the homeless community’s needs.

The report also suggested that shelters should offer supportive services and access to transportation to help guests get access to jobs, medical appointments and other opportunities. It also suggested that in the future, nonprofits looking to locate an emergency shelter should form a community engagement board to build an engagement process as the organization is looking for a new location, instead of announcing the location and doing engagement after the fact.

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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