BOISE - A milestone today for people seeking solutions to chronic homelessness in Boise.
Ground was broken for the first building project in the city's Housing First initiative.
The site of New Path Community Housing is at 22nd and Fairview where the old Twin Dragon Chinese restaurant used to be.
The idea behind having the new housing complex is to help the chronically homeless transition from survival mode to self-sufficiency.
"A home is such a big deal, first imagine not having that, and then imagine having something like this," Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said.
It’s targeted toward the chronically homeless.
"An individual [is] chronically homeless if they've been homeless for 12 months, have a disabling condition, or someone that has a disabling condition and has been homeless more than four times over a three-year period of time,” Idaho Housing and Finance Association President Gerald Hunter said.
The New Path Community Housing complex will have 41 units: one for a manger and the other 40 for tenants.
“It's estimated that there are 140 chronically homeless in the community here, so 40 units is going to address maybe a third," Hunter said.
But that third will make a difference. They say housing those 40 people will save Ada County taxpayers millions. Researchers at Boise State University found if those 40 people weren’t housed it would cost taxpayers more than $2 million a year. With Housing First they say it would bring the cost down to $450,000.
"The chronically homeless use hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars of services," Bieter said. "EMS services, emergency rooming, hospital services, court services, police services way disproportionate to the numbers that we have here."
To bring those numbers down, the idea is to provide services that are needed on site. There will be medical care, mental health and substance abuse treatment.
"When you have a location like this where you can bring the appropriate services to people, deal with those needs, provide those people with safe and stable housing while that's going on, the effectiveness of all that is whole lot better," Hunter said.
Construction is expected to start in the next coming weeks and the plan is to have the project completed by next summer.
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