Shelter Better Task Force outlines recommendations for city, shelter leaders

Boise City Hall
Posted at 4:47 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 19:45:57-04

BOISE, Idaho — The Shelter Better Task Force wrapped up its originally scheduled meetings Monday without a recommended location for Interfaith Sanctuary, but with broader recommendations on best practices for emergency shelters.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean created the task force in July after asking Interfaith Sanctuary to pause its proposed move. She said the task force would explore ways to address homelessness and emergency shelter solutions.

A 2019 count found 713 homeless men, women and children in Ada County and 2,315 homeless men, women and children throughout Idaho. With the Supreme Court overturning the latest eviction moratorium, that number could increase.

According to CNN, Goldman Sachs estimates 750,000 households across the country will face eviction by the end of the year.

The task force changed its purpose in a meeting on July 26 away from recommending a specific site for Interfaith Sanctuary's move. Task force members expressed concern about resistance from community members and concern that they lacked the technical expertise to evaluate some of the possible properties.

The task force work-shopped recommendations Monday about best practices for shelter, community criteria for the site of shelters and recommendations for city and shelter leadership.

Recommendations for best practices discussed include:

  • ensuring shelters are low barrier
  • using innovative practices like residential work programs
  • utilizing outreach ambassadors to help educate and include neighbors in the process

Recommendations for community criteria include:

  • asking the Boise Police Department to create an impact report for potential shelter locations
  • creating a community engagement board
  • ensuring there are appropriate residential buffers

Recommendations for city and shelter leadership include ensuring there are enough emergency shelter beds to meet the need.

Some community members remain critical of the task force and its recommendations.

“The task force has recommendations for next time, but what about now? What about best practice serving those who experience homelessness, what about protecting our neighborhoods, what about better shelter solutions for the city of Boise right now?” Bobbie Aitchison, a member of Boise Neighbors for Better Housing said.

Interfaith Sanctuary says it's too soon to know what the next steps will be for them.

The Task Force will have one final meeting before delivering its report to the Mayor on September 10.