BOISE, Idaho — March 30 was supposed to be the day that Interfaith Sanctuary submitted its plan for a new facility on State Street in Garden City. However, after fierce opposition by neighbors and talks with a housing nonprofit, the shelter is now revising its plans to include permanent places for people to live at.
In mid-January, Interfaith Sanctuary announced that it was planning on moving from its 10,000 square feet shelter on River Street in downtown Boise to a 33,000 square foot empty building on State Street in Garden City, just west of Veterans Parkway.
Jodi Stigers, the executive director for Interfaith, told The 208 that she hopes this will be the last delay before they can start making progress on the new facility.
In their newest plan, the shelter will include 20 private rooms as part of a housing-first focus. By fulfilling people's need for a permanent place to go, Interfaith hopes to take the worry of housing off of people's plates as they try to get back up on their feet.
According to Stigers, there is no limit on how long people can stay in the private rooms but it will depend on how quickly more permanent housing becomes available.
Building private rooms would cut the number of emergency beds from 276 to 200, but Stiger said the tradeoff between the two would be worth it.
"We don't want our guests to be removed from the waiting list, those waiting lists are designed for those who are homeless so it doesn't change their homeless status it just acknowledges that they're employed, they're sustained, they are stuck in our system because we can't find housing for them but really they're ready to be housed on their own," Stigers explained.
She added that the private rooms offer a place for people to store their belongings and lock them up. Currently, Interfaith Sanctuary has to keep lockers outside due to a lack of space inside the building.
"I think when we first looked at that 33,000 square feet it was like, 'How many people can we help?'" Stigers said. "And that was a first try, and then after meeting with neighbors and Boise Homeless Coalition and just looking that the numbers and need and how we as a shelter could best operate in a neighborhood."
With the revised plans, Interfaith would have 15 private rooms for men and five for women and a family unit with two private rooms.
The Veteran's Park Neighborhood Association, who has made clear their opposition to the shelter moving in, said they are interested in seeing them but they are worried the revised project won't address the concerns of adding more poverty to an already high concentration of low-income residents in the area.
The revised application will be submitted to Boise Planning and Zoning on April 12.
"What they've forced us to do is a deeper dive and look at who our guests really are and how do we make sure each of those guests has a bed in our building," Stigers explained. "I appreciate that we were asked to take more time."