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Assisted living to transitional housing on the Boise Bench? Inside Boise Rescue Mission’s new proposal

New housing for those looking to step out of homelessness could be coming to the Boise Bench. 

Earlier this month, Boise Rescue Mission, a network of Christian faith-based homeless shelters, applied for a zoning certificate from the City of Boise to convert the Park Place assisted living community at 1777 Curtis Road into transitional housing for families and adults in need. The facility has roughly 100 bedrooms and can house up to 200 people, according to a letter submitted to the city by Boise Rescue Mission’s lawyer Frank Lee. 

This would not be a traditional emergency homeless shelter where anyone can drop in and stay the night in rows of bunk beds, like at the downtown Boise Rescue Mission facilities. Instead, it would be for people transitioning from homelessness to living on their own who meet a set of five criteria. According to Lee’s letter to the City of Boise, this will include: 

  • “Does not then have a safe, stable and otherwise suitable housing situation”
  • “Is sufficiently stable, functional and otherwise suitable (in the Rescue Mission’s opinion) to be contributing members of a shared living environment”
  • “Have minimal needs for supervision and assistance”
  • “Makes a commitment to be a positive part of the group living community”
  • “Makes a commitment to actively work toward a transition to their own safe, stable and otherwise housing situation”

Zoning certificates are reviewed administratively by city staff. 

How is this different than what is currently offered?

Boise Rescue Mission currently operates two shelters in downtown Boise, one for single men and another for women and children. With the current setup, families cannot stay all together and single fathers and their children are not eligible to stay there. Boise Rescue Mission says anyone can stay at the shelter, but unless you agree to participate in their faith-based programming, there are time limits on how long people can sleep there before needing to leave for a set number of days. Women and children are able to stay longer without participating in programming than men, according to an interview Roscoe gave to the Idaho Press in 2019.

The exterior of Boise Rescue Mission’s River of Life men’s shelter in downtown Boise. Margaret Carmel/BoiseDev

This is different than Interfaith Sanctuary, where families have always been housed together in a dorm on a different side of the shelter than single men and women. That shelter, which is also in the midst of trying to earn city approval to expand with a somewhat similar project, has no faith-based requirements for programming. It is a low-barrier shelter, meaning anyone can stay there regardless of sobriety unless they break rules against violence, theft or cause conflicts. 

In his letter, Lee said each room is not an apartment with a kitchen for independent living like an apartment. It will continue to operate much as it does currently as an assisted living home, with community meals and other activities. It will also be temporary housing, but specifics are unknown. Roscoe did not respond to a phone call before press time asking more detailed questions about how long residents will be permitted to stay. 

“The intent is to provide a safe and suitable living arrangement for people to transition to their own permanent living arrangement,” Lee’s letter said. “The occupants will not be long-term residents. The purpose of the facility is to provide temporary residences or people during their transition to safe and suitable housing. The purpose of the facility is not a permanent housing solution, as such matters are better provided by other charities and governmental agencies with far greater resources (like the City of Boise itself.)

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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 margaret@boisedev.com or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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