Boise joining national program to address homelessness

Boise, Mayor Lauren McLean joins national program to address homelessness
Posted at 1:56 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 12:13:23-04

Boise is joining a national effort to address homelessness.

Mayor Lauren McLean and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Regional Administrator Margaret Solle Salazar announced Boise will be part of the House America: An All-Hands-On-Deck Effort to Address the Nation's Homelessness Crisis initiative.

"Taking care of our residents by ensuring we have a home for everyone in our community is my top priority," Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said in a statement. "I am happy to join the national House America initiative and build on the work we are doing to create an additional 250 permanent supportive homes by 2026 for our residents experiencing homelessness."

The announcement was made at Valor Pointe, a supportive housing complex for local veterans who were experiencing chronic homelessness.

"I lost my business in 2011 in southern California, I ended up being a nomad, had some issues with my back and neck," said Valor Pointe resident, Clifton Bangs.

This brought Clifton to Boise for care from the VA. Then, through his connection with the VA he had an opportunity to live at Valor Pointe. It's called supportive housing because it offers services like health care, mental health care and substance abuse treatment to the residents.

"I walked in there, I was blown away man," Clifton said. "They all had to be handicap accessible so there are big kitchens, big living rooms."

There's also a laundry room, fitness room and classrooms for those supportive service programs and a community room.

This type of housing follows a housing-first approach, linking housing and health.

"You have to ensure that you can provide the services to support residents who need that help in staying housed after so long not being housed," Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said.

While Clifton said Valor Pointe isn't perfect and said he thinks there should be more supportive services available, he said, "It's been — it's been awesome."

The new supportive housing will be funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars and $10 Million of general fund money from the City of Boise.

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The program is a partnership between the HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) work with mayors, governors, Tribal nation leaders and others to "use the historic investments provided through the American Rescue Plan to address the crisis of homelessness through a Housing First approach by immediately re-housing and building additional housing for people experiencing homelessness," according to a news release from the HUD.

The initiative uses funding from the American Rescue Plan, federal, state and local resources to provide housing for 100,000 households experiencing homelessness and add 20,000 new units of affordable housing, according to the release.

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A local assessment from the HUD found there are around 575 homeless people in the Boise/Ada County area. HUD gave Boise 41 emergency housing vouchers and $2,932,499 in HUD HOME Investment Partnerships Program funding.

"We are proud to partner with Mayor McLean and the City of Boise on this important work to get more people into safe and affordable homes," HUD Regional Administrator Margaret Solle Salazar in a statement. "The Treasure Valley is experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis and I know that under the Mayor’s leadership, she will continue to advocate for and prioritize affordable housing."