BOISE, Idaho — Messages of ‘Be Kind’, ‘Everyone Deserves a Second Chance’, and ‘You Are Welcome Here’ can be seen on the front windows of the former Salvation Army site in State Street in Boise.
Interfaith Sanctuary, a Boise homeless shelter, is eyeing the building for a proposed new shelter, and it was on Oct. 17 that the Executive Director Jodi Peterson-Stigers said someone had sent her a message that the “do not” sign was plastered over one of the messages.
“Shocked and sadness, really sad,” Peterson-Stigers said. “Someone goes to that effort to paint you’re not welcome on a building that we are trying to take care of our most vulnerable.”
Since announcing their plans to convert the Salvation Army into a proposed homeless shelter, it has faced pushback.
“The messaging is heating up, the personal messages that I’m receiving right now are pretty dreadful,” Peterson-Stigers said. “But we are also quite honestly getting more support. Much louder voices of support, people are realizing that they need to let the community know that this is important to know.”
Boise Mayor Lauren McLean also weigh in on the issue. On Twitter, she posted:
“The reprehensible vandalism of Interfaith Sanctuary’s building does not represent who we are as Boiseans, and there is no place for these actions in our community. A City for Everyone” isn’t a slogan, it’s a mission we work toward every single day. Acts of hate like this are a literal and figurative stain on that mission and our efforts to help those in crisis. There are some tough decisions ahead of us. To find answers that help us shelter better, we need to come together and keep hold of our values of compassion, community, and service.”
Peterson-Stigers said they're keeping their heads up high and will continue to focus on informing the public about the project.
“Housing is so hard to access right now. Our 10,000 square foot building can not do what housing first shelter model must do. Provide a safe space 24 hours, 7 days a week for anyone that is sheltering there. It needs to have the ability for families to stay together,"
Peterson-Stigers said. After pausing the application in June and a Shelter Better Task Force being established to provide recommendations, the Boise Shelter is awaiting their conditional use permit scheduled to be discussed at the city's planning and zoning commission meeting at 6:00 p.m on Nov. 15.
Interfaith Sanctuary is holding a virtual public meeting about the proposed new shelter on Oct. 21, if the community would like to learn more about the proposal you can register for the zoom link, here.