BOISE, Idaho — Homelessness is an ongoing issue in the Treasure Valley, and one local organization is working to do its part to help the problem.
Reverend Bill Roscoe, president and CEO of the Boise Rescue Mission, spoke Thursday about how the mission is working to help the homeless population and how the mission itself could use some help.
Roscoe said one of the biggest holdups when it comes to getting help for the homeless is a lack of public awareness about the issue.
"I do think that a lot of people come here, particularly the people who have moved here in just the last few years, and they don't think we have a homeless problem in the city of Boise or in the Treasure Valley," Roscoe described. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
Over the last three months, the mission reported about 630 homeless people living in shelters each night throughout Boise and Nampa.
Of those 630 people, 33 percent were women and children. That number also included nearly 40 families staying in transitional housing.
During those three months, the Boise Rescue Mission itself housed 500 people per night in its shelters. The Interfaith Sanctuary, which works with the mission, also houses an additional 160 people - which is max capacity for the sanctuary.
Roscoe said he's grateful for all the community has done for the mission over the years, and hopes the community will continue to help and support them in their cause as homelessness persists.
"I wanted to make it known to the community that the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries is an integral part of solving homelessness in the Treasure Valley," he said. "I know that we're never going to do away with homelessness altogether but I know that we do make, and can continue to make, a huge impact in keeping people off the street and helping people who have become displaced and homeless to find their way back into independent living again."
Some of the things the mission does to help are provide programs to help with issues like addiction recovery, mental health care, transitional living for veterans, help with college or GED prep and job placement.
Rev. Roscoe said about 15 percent of people who go through the Rescue Mission return to homelessness or end up back at the mission. But he added that over the last five years, the mission has successfully helped around 600 people transition back into society and independent living.
"We want people to be about the business of recovering from homelessness and we give them opportunities here to do that through our programs and connections in the community," Roscoe said. "So we don't have people just loitering around the building all day long who ought to be out in the community trying to find a way out of homelessness and we have a lot of programs that are directed to help people recover from homelessness."
Besides aid programs, the mission also provides meals and clothing.
To help keep up with the demand, Roscoe said any donations from the community are appreciated. The mission doesn't get any government funding, and it relies solely on the help of the community.
Roscoe said they accept monetary donations, clothing items, food donations, and hygiene items. He said they also need more volunteers. He said any type of help is appreciated and makes a difference. Any donations can be dropped off at the mission's shelters.
To find out more about the mission and how you can help, you can visit the Boise Rescue Mission's website.