Cooler temps make "tent city" more dangerous

Posted at 10:43 PM, Nov 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-19 00:43:56-05
The City of Boise says that police and fire have been working overtime trying to keep residents of "tent city" safe.
But as it gets colder outside, it is getting more dangerous.
Officials say folks are trying to stay warm, and it is a disaster waiting to happen.
"Right now we're just trying to make it as safe as we can in that area, but it is very unsafe. It is a problem," said Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan.
The tents are blocking fire access to businesses in the area, and that causes problems for trucks trying to get into the alley, especially since one of the tents has already caught fire. 
"There is lots of open burning happening there. Heaters can cause those nylon tents to go up in flames. We're really concerned about those," said Doan.
Not only can they cause fires, but if wood or propane heaters are left on too long in confined spaces, some can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
"It could, in the blink of an eye, become a very, very terrible situation. The idea of a fire running through those tents is chilling, and I think that is one of our biggest concerns going forward," said Mike Journee, spokesman for the mayor. 
Short term solutions would be to have the homeless utilize the shelters that have open beds, but long term solutions are much harder to comprehend. 
"There is no easy solution to a complex problem," said Doan.
The mayor's office has been working with members of the faith, corporate, and nonprofit communities for several months trying to come up with long term solutions.
"That group, through the mayor's leadership, has identified preeminent supportive housing as our number one priority as a city. That's housing that includes services that include treatment, and mental health counseling," said Journee. 
The project is labor intensive and requires assistance from the community, but they said, with help, it can be done.