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Boise-area shelter closes amid rises in homelessness, rents


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Affording Boise

Soaring rents. Skyrocketing home prices. The double-digit rates of increase in the costs of Boise-area housing create increasingly urgent problems for low-income, working-class and even moderate-income Idahoans who need places to live. This is Affording Boise, a series of Idaho Statesman special reports on housing.

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As waiting lists for some Boise homeless shelters and affordable housing units grow, one organization decided to close its shelter doors in Nampa.

The Boise Rescue Mission closed its men’s shelter, leaving only its Boise location for homeless, single men in Canyon County.

The Rev. Bill Roscoe, CEO and president of Boise Rescue Mission, said in a voicemail to the Idaho Statesman that there were only two or three men using the Lighthouse Rescue Mission at 304 16th Ave. when it officially closed on March 1.

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“It just cost too much money to keep the place open and staffed to not serve any meals and to have two or three guys a night staying in shelter,” Roscoe said Thursday.

Marjorie Potter, development and public relations director for the Salvation Army in Caldwell, said there is still a “ton of need” in Nampa and Caldwell for a men’s shelter. She didn’t know why more of them had not gone to the Lighthouse.

The shortage of shelter space is a problem amid rising homelessness in Idaho in part because of rising rents and home prices.

In the past 10 years, Idaho’s homeless population has increased by 23%, according to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association. “The increase can be mostly attributed to improved counting efforts and rising housing costs in the state,” the association says on its website.

The association’s 2021 count of people experiencing homelessness found 557 homeless people who were unsheltered in Region 3, which includes Ada and Canyon counties.

Roscoe said the Rescue Mission is working with the men who were using the shelter to get them into permanent housing.

IMG_2451 Lighthouse Rescue Mission sign in Nampa by Rachel Spacek 3-3-22 16-9 crop.jpg
The Lighthouse Rescue Mission, a men’s shelter run by Boise Rescue Mission, officially closed March 1. It was located at 304 16th Ave. Rachel Spacek rspacek@idahostatesman.com

Potter, who works at the Salvation Army office behind the Canyon County jail in Caldwell, said the organization is consistently seeing men from the jail walk in who need shelter.

The only option for shelter for homeless men in Canyon County is the Salvation Army’s motel vouchers, which allow homeless people to stay in some motels for free for seven days, Potter said. But those motel rooms are full, she said.

IMG_2448 Sign on Lighthouse door by Rachel Spacek 3-3-22 3-4 crop.jpg
A sign posted on the door of the Lighthouse Rescue Mission in Nampa, saying the shelter was closed starting March 1. Rachel Spacek rspacek@idahostatesman.com

The Boise Rescue Mission’s Valley Women’s and Children’s shelter is still open in Nampa for women with children only. It also serves meals to anyone experiencing homelessness in the area.

Valley is the Rescue Mission’s only shelter in Canyon County. It is at 869 W. Corporate Lane. The Rescue Mission website said it will not turn anyone away for lack of space.

Rescue Mission shelters require people to be clean and sober to enter, but Roscoe said the mission doesn’t turn anyone away. He said a person experiencing homelessness who shows up drunk or high will be placed in a separate dorm area for the night to sober up. The Rescue Mission requires that men and women separate into different shelters.

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The Lighthouse Rescue Mission was hosting only two or three men per night, the Rev. Bill Roscoe said. Rachel Spacek

The Salvation Army in Nampa offers a 14-room overnight shelter and day resource shelter for families. They are allowed up to a 90-day stay in the shelter, the Statesman previously reported. The rooms were full last summer. The shelter is at 1412 4th St S.

Each morning, people seek help finding a home

In the past 10 years, Idaho’s homeless population has increased by 23%, according to the association.

Potter said that when she walks into the Salvation Army for work each morning, there are dozens of messages from couples, singles and families looking for housing in Canyon County.

“I invite people to come out here and volunteer with us,” Potter said. “They will see that there is a huge need for housing out here.”

The Nampa Housing Authority had a 19-month waiting list for its affordable rental units in July, the Statesman reported.

Roscoe said the women’s and children’s shelter is busy, and he doesn’t see any changes happening there.

The Rescue Mission also operates the Recovery Lodge to serve Idahoans with medical vulnerabilities. It is located next door to the women’s and children’s shelter.

It is unclear what is next for the Lighthouse shelter property, Roscoe said.

“We’re going to consider what the future is for this property and what we would use it for, and that is just getting underway,” he said.

This story was originally published March 4, 2022 8:33 AM.





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