TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Valley House homeless shelter, which is currently at maximum capacity, says they are expecting an even bigger influx of homelessness than they have had in the last year due to the pandemic.
Four Valley House residents describe the harsh reality facing the Magic Valley’s homeless population.
A single father looking to get back on his feet. A married couple who had spent the last several years' couch surfing and living in their car. A recovering addict now 42 days sober. As different as their stories may be, each of them found refuge at the Twin Falls Valley House.
Idaho news 6 had the opportunity to sit down with all of them, as they described what led them here.
“I called twice a day for weeks,” said Valley House resident Shaun Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick came to the Valley house 3 weeks ago, before that he said he almost froze to death and got hypothermia when he had nowhere to stay while using methamphetamines.
“I walked until to where I thought I remembered where this gal lived and it got real cold real fast,” said Kirkpatrick. “I had no socks on I was out there and I just curled up to go to sleep and they say that is what you do.”
Now working towards going to an Idaho falls rehab clinic, Kirkpatrick said his main goal is to see his two daughters again.
“I have not seen or talked to them in many years,” Kirkpatrick said. “So I look forward to that.”
Jennifer and Jake Arterburn are both long-time drug addicts and are now both 82 days clean. They came to the Valley House almost 2 months ago.
“I got to the point where every time I used, I wanted to use more to see how much I could take so I could die," said Jennifer. “Because I was done with that life and I did not how to get out of it.”
Both Jennifer and Jake now work full-time jobs and their next goal is to get their own place to stay and a vehicle.
“A lot of people think that people here are just hiding out and using drugs and whatnot, and that is not it at all,” said Jake. “Everyone here has to be involved in something.”
Gilbert, who only identified himself with his first name to Idaho News 6, is the father of a 17- and 11-year-old. He came to the Valley House as a way to start to create a stable environment for his children.
“By being here, it’s given me a lot of peace,” said Gilbert. “I have been looking for work and going through a couple of different programs.”
He says in his time at the Valley House it has helped him get a fresh start.
“To be able to manage my finances and actually get things done and get things in place so that way I was able to continue to take care of my kids,” Gilbert said.
As the number of marginalized and homeless individuals in the Magic Valley continues to grow, the Valley House is currently full. The need for space is so great it is currently searching for funding for the second phase of its expansion — a 15 unit building able to hold up to 60 more people.
“With rising prices in homes and materials all those things that are happening, with many more people moving into the area, with it getting warmer here soon, we are going to have an even bigger influx of homelessness than we have had in the last year over COVID," said Valley House Board President Bryan Bacon.
For more information on the Valley House's developments check out their website here.