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Cooper Court public information request in works

Posted at 6:09 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 20:21:01-05

Cooper Court may be free of tents in Boise but some people strongly disagree with how the clean up process went down.

The Boise/Ada County Coalition for the Homeless want answers and need money to cover the cost of a public information request.

Members of the group have a list of questions they want answered to help them fulfill their main goal.

"Our goal as the coalition is to better educate the community... we have to have that information," says Peg Richards, the group's president and the executive director of the Good Samaritan Home. "You can't educate anyone without having proper information."

They want to read city e-mails sent leading up to the decision to remove the tents, see specific records pertaining to the cost associated with the decision and review information on the current safety of those who were displaced.

As per Idaho state code, the group has to pay the standard fee for the documents. The cost for this request is more than $1,000. The total is calculated based on the number of documents requested. The public information request fee also pays for the legal expertise and time put into preparing the request.

A city spokesman says the $290,000 clean up project accomplished their goal.

"That [the Cooper Court clean up] was not an effort to address homelessness at large in our community," says Mike Journee, City of Boise spokesman. "But, it was specifically designed to address those health and safety concerns that were there."

As Boise city leaders plan to announce their long-term solution to combat homelessness in the weeks to come, they are receiving criticism that not all service providers were included in the discussion.

"All the known successes in regards to decreasing the amount of homelessness on a street have all been true, 100 percent community efforts," Richards says.

"We think that [Cooper Court clean up] money saved lives. Perhaps, dozens of lives. We had to address the immediate concerns there," Journee says. "A fire could have gone through those tents, a fire could have sparked up at the homeless shelter that's nearby and could have burned it down. That's money well spent and we believe that the majority of the residents of Boise believe that as well."

Here is a link to the group's public fundraising website: https://www.tilt.com/tilts/sunlight-for-cooper-court.

For those wanting to get involved with the city's effort, there is an upcoming opportunity. Volunteers are needed to help canvass areas in Ada County to get a count for how many people are homeless. The Point-In-Time Homeless Count is required by the federal government in order for Housing and Urban Development funding to be obtained.

The count is to take place Jan. 28-31. For more information, contact Stephanie Bloom by dialing 208-570-6845 or by sending an e-mail to sbloom@cityofboise.org.