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Ada County pulls funding from homeless program, to create its own

The county has decided to go with a treatment-first program, rather than the housing-first approach the City of Boise prefers.

BOISE, Idaho — New Path Community Housing is a housing program that aims to help the chronic homeless find permanent housing in Boise. The program was built in 2018 and takes a housing-first approach to end homelessness.

For years Ada County was one of the local agencies paying for New Path, but that will stop for the fiscal year of 2022.

Ada County commissioners made the decision to put their funds elsewhere, into a new program, leaving the City of Boise with $355,000 to pay.

“New Path, Terry Reilly Housing Services, they provide supportive services in the building, and more than 70 percent of their residents engage in those regularly,” said Casey Mattoon, Our Path Home Manager with the City of Boise.

According to the city, the 40 unit housing complex has saved 2.6 million dollars for the community by reducing emergency services and potential costs in the criminal justice system.

“It has been an incredible demonstration of how when partners come together to fund solutions, that they can actually work,” Mattoon said.

Federal funding covers the costs of rent and utilities at New Path. In 2021, Ada County along with St. Luke’s Health System and Saint Alphonsus combined contributed $512,000 to Terry Reilly Health Services to provide onsite treatment. 

The Ada County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to no longer contribute to the program, instead deciding to take a different approach.

“We want people, if they have an issue, get treatment, we call it treatment first, not housing first,” said Rod Beck, the Chairman of the Ada County Board of Commissioners.

The county decided to move its funds into a new program, but this program will save the county $100,000. It will focus on providing mental health, disability, and substance abuse services- but not housing.

“There's not a requirement that the people in New Path even seek the counseling or even seek the intervention so we don't know how many people we are helping. We will know exactly how many people we're helping, once we get this program set up,” said Beck.

According to Beck, the county will contribute around $200,000 to the new program, $100,000 less than they did for New Path. Additionally, the county will seek funding from local hospitals.

“We think with a like amount of money we can do more good for more people than just the 40 or so that live there,” said Beck.

Although though the move means more spending on behalf of the City of Boise, according to them, New Path Community Housing has been successful and has a bright future ahead.

“What the county has done is really abdicate their constitutional responsibility to provide funds that help support this type of need, especially for our most vulnerable residents, they currently don't have a plan in place and regardless of where they go, they reduced their total funding to this very critical need in our community at a time where we are seeing that need increase,” Mattoon said.

Ada County will meet with Terry Reilly Health Services in the coming weeks to discuss further details about their new program.

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