Housing-first initiative saved Ada Co. taxpayers $1.3M in 2019, according to BSU report

Boise's New Path was built in 2018 to house the homeless.
Posted at 10:40 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 00:40:12-04

BOISE, Idaho — A new report by Boise State University s hows that a housing-first effort by Ada County and Boise City officials to prevent chronic homelessness — is working.

New Path Community Housing on Fairview Avenue saved taxpayers more than $1 million dollars in 2019, according to the report by the Idaho Policy Institute.

“This is what we really hope for in public policy. This is the holy grail," said Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo. "It's literally saving people’s lives, and saving taxpayers’ dollars. What more can you ask for?”

Maureen Brewer is an administrator with Our Path Home, a city-led initiative.

“Fewer Emergency Room visits, fewer jail stays, fewer transports to the hospitals by the paramedics, fewer stays at the crisis center, etcetera," said Brewer.

The 40-unit apartment building opened in December of 2018, making it Idaho’s first supportive housing community. It aims to serve Idaho’s chronically homeless, or in other words, those who’d been experiencing homelessness the longest.

“We can achieve so much more together," said Lachiondo.

New Path was a product of a massive collaboration called Our Path Home.

“It is county, city, Housing Authority, um, Idaho Housing and Finance, a whole host of nonprofit partners -- and that’s what it takes to make this happen," said Lachiondo.

Brewer says housing and health go hand-in-hand.

“When you’re not afforded that opportunity to begin and end your day in a safe and stable home, it’s easy to get caught up in any manner of issues, and for physical health issues to sort of manifest.”

But using that same argument, one local group of advocates is now also asking that the city gives housing to every homeless individual because of the outbreak.

Boise Renters United wrote a letter to Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, hoping she will hear them out about issuing broader brushstroke measures in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Sent our letter to the mayor yesterday, with three demands," said Cameron Scott, member of Boise Renters United. "To cancel rent, enact a full moratorium on the filing and execution of all evictions, as well as providing safe, humane emergency housing to people without homes.”

They also wrote that providing hotel rooms or other dignified spaces for the duration of the crisis will protect those who are most vulnerable and the community as a whole.

Scott asks that if you're interested in getting involved with Boise Renters United, to please visit their social media pages.

Lachiondo says Ada County recently approved a $30,000 grant to go towards eviction intervention group Jesse Tree.

Separately, the city of Boise is also finalizing a lease of the Cottonwood Suites in Boise to house homeless Idahoans who have tested positive for — or are exhibiting symptoms of — COVID-19.