BOISE, Idaho — The Boise Rescue Mission (BRM) homeless shelter system is currently serving 34 people ages 65 and older; at least 5 of them are in need of extensive assisted living care, according to BRM President and CEO Reverend Bill Roscoe.
The problem has noticeably gotten worse over the past 18 months. Normally, Rev. Roscoe expects not more than 15 senior citizens at any given time.
The problem has doubled.
"When you're looking at $1,400 for a studio [apartment], that's out of reach for a lot of people. If you're on a fixed income of $1,000 or $1,100 a month - which is pretty high for most of my people - you're just not able to live on that. You just can't rent a place," Rev. Roscoe said. "To the people experiencing that it is a nightmare. To our staff it is a real chore, because they're hard to serve. People are hard to serve. People need a lot of extra help when they are over 75 years old."
The housing crisis plays a significant role in this growing problem, according to Rev. Roscoe through conversations with his guests.
Currently, an 75-year-old woman is at BRM after her long-time landlord sold the mobile home where she used to live. She lived there for more than a decade and paid around $500 a month in rent, Rev. Roscoe said.
No other living options were within her established budget.
"I think it goes back to the root cause of most homeless toda, and that the disillusion of the family unit. We're all so spread out and far away from everyone anymore," rev. Roscoe said. "My folks weren't rich people by any stretch. But when Grandma got old and Grandpa died and she needed a place to go, she lived with us until she died. We don't see that much anymore. And there are a lot of reasons for that, and I'm not disparaging people for not wanting to take care of elderly family, but I think that's a big part of the problem."
BRM is looking to tackle this problem by purchasing an old assisted living facility of their own called Sonrise Manor. The 60-unit facility is on the Boise Bench. BRM expects Sonrise Manor to be open for use by February or March of 2023.
"It fits a very important need that we have, have had, and will have. That is supportive affordable housing in a transitional environment for people who are coming out of homelessness and are coming back into the community," Rev. Roscoe said. "It's a program. It's not rent. We are not landlords. They agree with us, ‘here is the plan that I'm gonna follow to get out of here.’ As long as they're working toward that plan, we will work with them."
Sonrise Manor is not only for older guests at BRM. A variety of individuals and families will be able to use the transitional housing service.
"We're gonna fill them up pretty quickly, I am sure of that," Rev. Roscoe said.
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