Homelessness is a chronic issue in Ada County.
Thankfully there are a lot of services to help, but a majority of those resources are centered in Boise.
County officials met at Meridian City Hall Wednesday night to determine where these services are needed outside of Boise to better serve the area.
Local leaders from the cities of Meridian, Boise, and the rest of Ada County met to discuss the current state of homelessness in our communities.
And, they wanted the public to join the conversation.
The discussion largely focused around students in the West Ada School District who are experiencing homelessness, but are flying under the radar.
As of January 2017, officials reported a total of 833 homeless people living in Ada County. But, they say there are more out there who are homeless.
“In Meridian in particular, in some of those outlying areas of the county, homelessness is a little more hidden than it is in Boise,” said Maureen Brewer, Continuum of Care Program Manager.
That's because Boise is where most of the services are, making it easier to count the homeless population.
So for areas that are lacking resources, many people who need help aren't getting it.
“In Meridian in particular, they experience a lot of students that are doubled up or they are couch surfacing,” said Brewer. “So it’s harder to see it, it’s harder to find them, it’s harder to count them, it’s harder to know what resources they need and again where they might need those resources. We have to know about them in order to bring the services to them.
That's why officials came together from across the county to figure out where the need is, and how to better serve that area.
Brewer wants all providers to use the same homeless management information system to determine exactly where all displaced people are.
“Where we are really making a concerted effort to track our system performance measures and tracks the performance of our providers and those that are providing services to our homeless,” said Brewer.
Brewer says getting all providers to use the same system will help make data-driven decisions for policy change.
“Does it make sense to have all of the services centralized here in this downtown core of Boise? What do we need maybe out in the Meridian, Star or Kuna?” she said.
Officials want as many people in the county to be engaged in this issue to help reduce the amount of homeless individuals.