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Businesses, neighbors split on proposed new location of Boise homeless shelter

"Our growth has gone off quite a bit and we haven't had any issues with any people from the Sanctuary coming inside the pizza shop at all,” said one business owner.

BOISE, Idaho — Several neighborhoods surround the new proposed site for the Interfaith Sanctuary homeless shelter. 

However, many businesses are even closer to the planned site in the old Salvation Army Thrift Store on State Street. 

While some business owners share neighbors' concerns about safety, others welcome the move and see it as an opportunity for the community to come together.

Joe Bankard lives on Collister and is also the senior pastor at Collister United Methodist Church, two blocks away from the old Salvation Army building.

“Concerns of safety, my children, property values, what about my business, is this going to deter people from wanting to come to my business? Those are all legitimate,” Bankard said.

However, he has yet to find any evidence proving the homeless population causes more violent crime.

“A lot of this is about misconceptions of the homeless population,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to create a large increase in violent crime. I think our children are going to remain very safe.”

Bankard acknowledges that if the move goes through, there will be a visible change, but he says it’s how the community chooses to respond to that, that matters.

Darrell Barrett, owner of adult entertainment club Satin Dolls, believes safety is a valid concern. He said if the move goes through, he will need to hire more security.

“I can potentially see an increase of drinking and drugs going on in the parking lots over in the area and stuff like that, so it’s a major concern,” he said.

But according to Maxwell Lillie, owner of Americana Pizza, which is located across the street from Interfaith Sanctuary’s current location on River Street, safety has never been a concern. He said the shelter has actually helped the pizzeria grow.

“We opened up two years ago and since we have been open our growth has gone off quite a bit and we haven't had any issues with any people from the [Interfaith] Sanctuary coming inside the pizza shop at all,” he said. “They come in, buy slices and sodas and usually go on their way.”

Interfaith Sanctuary will submit an application for the proposed move to the city on Feb. 23. If everything goes as planned, they will close on the building at the end of March.

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