Room at the shelters?

Posted at 10:16 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-10 00:16:22-05

When it comes to the issue of homelessness in Boise, many are asking -- why aren't people heading to the shelters? Those at the River of Life men’s shelter say they have beds and opportunities available for those seeking help.

“Whatever's needed. We want to assist. We want to help. That's our goal,” said Jacob Lang, the Director of the Boise Rescue Mission’s River of Life’s men’s shelter. He says their motto is not just a hand-out, but also a hand-up.

"Multiple services from our job search, to our accountability program, which is our money savings program, as well as we have a veterans program, a drug and alcohol program. We have multiple programs so that we can help the homeless,” said Lang.

Despite the opportunities that River of Life provides, Lang said they haven't seen an increase in people seeking shelter since tent city has been shut down.

"Actually our numbers have been down, we have lots of beds available currently in all of our dorms,” said Lang.

"Nobody wants to understand the story, nobody wants to listen. Nobody takes the time to ask,” said Karen Lang, a homeless woman in Boise.

So we did ask--where are the homeless sleeping since cooper court was shut down?

"Several that I know of for sure went to [Interfaith] Sanctuary, including myself, but I can't even have my dog there right now because he's not a service animal, he's a companion animal, but they've changed the rules,” said Shay.

Shay says that rules about animals are one reason homeless avoid local shelters. Also because shelters separate men and women.

"At our Women's shelters, we can take the women and their children, but the men would have to stay with us, or in Nampa,” explains Lang.

"At City lights, not only are we required to be separated, because being together is a show of affection, but also not allowed to wear my pentagram, or my goddess amulet ... I'm Wiccan,” said Anita, a homeless woman.

"We really are individually based, so not everybody is the same, so we focus on the person first.  Last month there were 40 we transitioned to permanent housing, and that's our goal,” said Lang.

Lang says he went down personally to Cooper Court for several weeks before it was shut down by the city, to invite those who were sleeping in tents to come. He still hopes they do.
“I don't think anyone really wants them out there to freeze. It's going to get cold, so it's better to be out in a nice warm bed,” said Lang.