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City of Boise joins 'House America' initiative to address homelessness

More than 75 mayors have joined House America to share the necessary knowledge to effectively deploy resources in the fight against homelessness.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise Mayor Lauren McLean at a press conference Tuesday announced the city is joining House America alongside 75 other mayors across the United States.

House America is a federal partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). The program supports a housing-first approach to combat homelessness.

"We have the pipeline that is required and expected of us to join an initiative like this," McLean said. "Now we have the relationships, the technical expertise, and frankly the support that will help us to do even more with the resources that we have and the commitment that we have to a home for everyone in this city."

750 affordable housing units will be available within five years, according to McLean. However, Boise needs 21,450 affordable units over the next decade, according to the city's 2021 Housing Needs Analysis.

McLean used Valor Pointe as an example of a successful housing project. The 27-unit apartment building in Boise houses military veterans experiencing homelessness.

Clifton Bangs spent 18 months on the street before finding housing at Valor Pointe. The apartment complex opened in August 2020 and Bangs said he was the complex's second resident.

"I slept on a piece of cardboard in a tent when it was snowing like crazy," Bangs said. "When I got the choice of [Valor Pointe], I was like, 'man this place is great.' I walked in there, and I was blown away man."

Vulnerable populations - including vets experiencing homelessness - need ongoing support and help, according to McLean. Valore Pointe residents and Bangs agree.

"The people that they have collectively put here have special needs that are not necessarily getting addressed," Bangs said.

In-house mental health and group therapy sessions have been put on hold through COVID, according to Bangs. However, each resident is assigned a case manager to assist with budgeting, groceries, bills and other daily tasks, a Valor Pointe case manager told KTVB.

“Taking care of our residents by ensuring we have a home for everyone in our community is my top priority,” McLean said. “I am happy to join the national House America initiative and build on the work we are doing to create an additional 250 permanent, supportive homes by 2026 for our residents experiencing homelessness.”

HUD Regional Administrator Margaret Solle Salazar and Mayor McLean will make an announcement Wednesday in regard to housing supply.

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