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Colder temperatures open warming shelters around the Treasure Valley

Groups with Our Path Home and Boise Mutual Aid opened warming shelters for those in need this week.

BOISE, Idaho — With temperatures dropping and more snow on the way in the Treasure Valley, stress and danger levels for one of the most vulnerable populations - those experiencing homelessness - rises. 

A few organizations and partnerships are helping keep those community members safe by opening warming shelters in downtown Boise.

"We are catching up with the growing need," said Jodi Peterson-Stigers, the executive director for Interfaith Sanctuary. 

Thanks to local partnerships with Our Path Home, including Interfaith Sanctuary, Corpus Christi Home Shelter and CATCH Program, a temporary warm-up day shelter is now open in Boise.

The facility is located at 511 S. Americana Blvd. in Boise. It will stay open seven days a week from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. until March 31, 2022. Anyone who needs a place to stay safe and warm is invited to use the shelter.

Those operating the warm-up day shelter will screen guests for COVID-19 symptoms and require all who enter over the age of two years-old to wear a face mask. They will also provide face coverings and transportation to access COVID-19 testing, vaccination appointments and other healthcare needs.

With an increase in homelessness and housing issues around the Treasure Valley, this additional space is something Peterson-Stigers said is long overdue.

"It used to be that Corpus Christi House could manage pretty much any of the daytime needs for our homeless population that's no longer true and it hasn't been for at least the last two years," Peterson-Stigers said. "The addition of this building is allowing us to close the gap."

Peterson-Stigers added the warming shelter also helps staff and case managers with the local shelters connect with the unsheltered population and those who have recently lost housing. 

"They're so unsure about everything," Peterson-Stigers said of new faces that visit the facility. "They don't understand this process at all, I don't think they ever imagined this for themselves and their family. It's really that first exposure to the supportive services and the agencies that support homelessness that's important for people to feel heard, seen and safe."

The partnerships with Interfaith, Corpus Cristi, Our Path Home and CATCH have allowed the possibilities to create more daytime activities and services for those in need, like the warming shelter. The non-profits and shelters are participating in a statewide fundraiser, Avenues for Hope, to benefit housing non-profits in Idaho.

While the warm-up day shelter only operates in the daytime, another local group is making it possible for those in need to keep safe at night.

"The community really pulls through and that's been our basic thing this whole time we've done Boise Mutual Aid," said Destinee Brooks with Boise Mutual Aid. 

Thanks to a donation, Boise Mutual Aid opened up a space in the Linen Building in downtown Boise for people to sleep overnight. Their doors will be open from 8 p.m. - 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

"This all came about from just us during our usual Monday distributions and we were freezing, basically," Brooks said. "We just felt so heartbroken that the houseless community that we were serving is here freezing as well."

Boise Mutual Aid said this was possible thanks to community support and working together, an approach their group strongly emphasizes; "Solidarity not charity." They believe during these tough times people all over the community need to come together.

"That's what we're asking of the broader community, said Ember, also with Boise Mutual Aid. "Do you have a building that people can sleep in? Do you have a business? How can you in your daily life support all of the people in our community and neighborhoods?"

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