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Viewpoint: Nonprofits focused on housing help

As the housing crisis continues, CATCH and Jesse Tree are helping the homeless and those on the brink of losing their homes

BOISE, Idaho — The housing crisis continues to hit many people hard as they struggle to find an affordable house to buy or an apartment to rent. 

Boise Regional Realtors says the median home price for Ada County topped nearly $550,000 dollars in February. That is about a 22% increase compared to February of last year. Inflation has also risen to a 40-year high.

A recent edition of Viewpoint focused on what the city of Boise is doing to create and preserve more affordable housing and to house the homeless. This edition stays with that theme by featuring two nonprofits that are focused on helping those on the brink of losing their housing or are experiencing homelessness.

Jesse Tree  provides financial assistance and case management to those who are at risk of eviction and homelessness who are unable to pay rent. It also supports households in eviction court to keep them from getting an eviction on their record and to keep them out of homelessness.

Leaders at CATCH say their vision is to end homelessness in the Treasure Valley. They say they exist because everyone needs a home. 

They follow the Housing First philosophy. That basically means, if you can get or keep someone in a stable home first, then they can focus on looking forward and working on the things, such as finding a job, that can lead to independence.

The executive directors of both organizations say the need for their services is great.

"Demand for our resources increased by 300% when the pandemic first hit, and we saw another 100% increase last year," Jesse Tree Executive Director Ali Rabe said. "Our numbers so far this year in terms of applications and calls we're receiving for assistance is even higher, and eviction court is continuing business as usual with about 20 cases a week in the Treasure Valley. Right now we're only able to support about a quarter of the demand that we're seeing just here."

"Obviously, pre-COVID we had some homelessness issues. In Ada County alone we would have about 150 families at any given time experiencing homelessness in Ada County," CATCH Executive Director Stephanie Day said. "Post-COVID we're closer to 230 at any given time. So it's definitely been increasing, unfortunately, and shelter has become much more challenging because of COVID and all of the things that come with that. So it's a pretty discouraging situation right now."

On this edition of Viewpoint, Day and Rabe lay out the services CATCH and Jesse Tree offer and how people can get help through them. Viewpoint airs Sunday mornings at 9 o'clock on KTVB.

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