Boise Parks and Recreation opened a seasonal day shelter for families experiencing homelessness Monday.
The Pioneer Neighborhood Community Center will be open seven days a week all winter from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The goal is to provide a safe, warm place for families with kids who are homeless to make life a little easier.
"When it's colder it gets nasty outside, and the whole idea for this program is to give those families a place to go,” said recreation manager Paul Schoenfelder. "We've got a lot of great shelter providers in the area and they provide a lot of services, and this is part of that puzzle."
Their focus is helping families with small children.
"Some of the other shelters they don't have the facilities for kids,” Schoenfelder said. “They might be crowded, especially in the winter. We've got a lot of families that use the public library, same idea, it's a place where people do go people, can go, and that's a fantastic service, but it's not the place for children to be all day long."
That's why for nine years Parks and Rec opens the Pioneer Neighborhood Community Center as a day shelter. The space is a youth center, so it’s the perfect place for kids.
"It was something that wasn't being utilized very much during the day, primarily as an after-school program, so we realized that there was a need for families during the day during the cold weather,” Schoenfelder said. “So, we had a building that wasn't getting used that much and we put it to work."
The shelter has computers, books, games, toys and art supplies. They also offer educational opportunities like art classes. They even provide lunch for those visiting in an attempt to make life a little easier.
"There's a lot of pressure that comes with that. If you're homeless, you're homeless 24 hours a day,” Schoenfelder said. “At least having some place that is dependable and safe and warm…really youth focused, provides those parents an opportunity to take their mind off of that stress and maybe hopefully focus on their kids instead of just focusing on their day-to-day survival."
On average they help around 35 families each year.
The shelter will be open through April 1.