City Government

Tent Camping at Christmas?

We all want to help those less fortunate–especially at Christmas. Just like we all wanted to help the hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast. Many of Idaho’s efforts to help were not needed then and they may not be needed at home.

The “Fear Factor” is alive and well in Boise. A “crises” for the homeless has been generally accepted as fact now that winter temperatures are dropping.

Mainstream media has been suckered once again into publishing reports of homeless people perishing on the streets of Boise due to exposure–NOT TRUE according to the coroner. In fact, NO ONE–homeless or otherwise– has died of exposure in the past year in Ada County.

Nonetheless Churches are responding with attempts to get permits for a tent colony at 11 N. Latah at the Jewish Synagogue. A temporary shelter is being established at the United Church of Christ west of downtown, pending permit approval.

Apart from the inhumane act of putting people in tents when it is COLD AS HELL outside, the GUARDIAN senses there is probably a whole lot of great intentions and little common sense being exercised on this issue–which may not even be an issue.

Without a program it is hard to tell the players, but it appears there are some cross denominational rivalries between the Jews, Catholics, Christians and Boise Rescue Mission.

The Christians, with the help of the Catholics, set up the temp shelter in the United Church of Christ at 2201 Woodlawn in the residential area west of downtown. If they get approval from the city, a tent city on the Jewish land on Latah will be erected.

The Boise City Council is feeling pressure from the Churchites to approve a tent city that may or may not be needed. Denial of a permit makes them appear heartless toward homeless. The GUARDIAN thinks the proper approach is to slow down, get some church basements opened up and forget about tents.

Homeless or otherwise not many people are gonna sit on a porta pottie at 8 degrees above zero. Issues of sanitation, food, heat and transportation are exacerbated with a tent city anywhere–especially on Latah Street.

The Rescue Mission is the most experienced non-profit when it comes to providing lodging and dining for homeless. We find it pathetic that churches are competing for homeless customers.

KBCI-TV is reporting there are plenty of empty beds at the Boise Rescue Mission which operates shelters for men at 6th and Grove as well as the former Community House on River Street. The other group is trying to offer “an alternative” to the Rescue Mission.

Forget about tents for now.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Treva Hamilton
    Dec 8, 2005, 10:28 pm

    Caring for the poor wars – who would have thought?

  2. It is true that people are not freezing to death on Boise streets. They may be ill and dying in hospitals from pneumonia, associated with respiratory infections from the cold and inversion. I don’t know. The tents to be used are military tents, which when heated are quite comfortable and will withstand severe cold. Surely this is intended to prove a point. That point being, there is a large segment of the homeless population who would rather be on the street than in a shelter run by the rescue mission. That may be why Bill Roscoe is SO adamant that they have this homeless thing taken care of. The City of Boise has done a shamefully poor job of handling homelessness. I believe the Interfaith Alliance intends to shine a very bright spotlight on the City’s poor performance and the myriad of problems with City Light, River of whatever it is now (community house) and Rescue Mission. This will be interesting to watch. Rest assured the City is not apt to let it happen….afterall they have had enough spotlights lately.

  3. Let me see if I have this straight. These people would rather die than sleep in a perfectly adequate shelter? Clean, no bugs, safe? And they’re being encouraged to stay away?

    I’m sorry, but there’s more at work here than simple charity. And it’s not a good use of public sympathy, let alone charitable resources, to play this game.

  4. I agree with some of the comments of both Tam and Curmudegeon — just because people aren’t dying on the streets (or under bushes) doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, and there’s more to this behind the scenes than we know about at this time. Too bad Boise Guardian hasn’t dug up the real reasons for this battle taking place. Yet. (Perhaps the Mayor’s spokesperson can provide some straight answers as usual). If nothing else, this may make consideration of the issue more visible. Merry Christmas AND/OR happy holidays.

  5. I find it odd that people who have no food or place to sleep would have the energy to object to the requirements of the Rescue Mission about prayer. As an agnostic I am kind of squirmy about public prayer but if you are asking for a gift I guess you shouldn’t be too finicky about the color of the wrapping paper. The tent city folks are all religious groups too – I expect there would be some recruiting going on there too!

    It would be interesting to read the whole story about the beginning of Community House, and what finally caused it to fail. It was there a long time and seemed to be a success story. The fact that families could stay together was a good thing about that situation, in my opinion.

  6. Tam said, “The City of Boise has done a shamefully poor job of handling homelessness.”

    Now, THAT is an interesting declaration. What responsibility does “the city” (AKA “the taxpayers”) have toward the homeless?

    From my (admittedly warm, privately-funded) place, I see the taxpayers having a certain amount of responsibility to care for the unfortunate, and mentally ill, and children, etc. – those who are homeless through no choice of their own. However, there is a significant percentage of homeless people who live the “hobo” lifestyle BY CHOICE – shunning the responsibility that comes with having a job, a family to support, bills to pay, etc. They’re happy to take a handout (“will work for food”) from whoever, and “three hots and a cot” with no expectations in return? … just PERFECT for them.

    How does the city help those who genuinely need the help, without encouraging the ones who are hobos-by-choice to gravitate for the free taxpayer-funded benefits? (Back in the day, the hobos would mark the fence-post in front of the houses where hobo-generosity was exercised. Frankly, I don’t relish the notion of Boise’s fence-post getting marked.)

    I hope that doesn’t come across as selfish or mean-spirited.

  7. Steve,
    Admittedly I should have explained a bit better. The City of Boise applies for, and historically has received, federal funding for a “continuum” of care. The money, as I understand it, is intended to fit a plan developed by the City to provide shelter, emergency, temporary, and permanent to the homeless. If they don’t want to administer the money….they shouldn’t apply for it. I’m with you that they likely aren’t the logical ones to administer homeless programs, but alas….that is the choice they have made. I just wish if they were going do it…they would do it right.

    Stats say that the majority of homeless adults suffer from addiction and/or mental illness. That means their choices are colored by a dual diagnosis that renders the result neither sane nor rational. I understand what you and others are saying…I just think “beggars can’t be choosers” doesn’t exactly fit this one.

  8. How about all the heated and/or air conditioned public buildings that are unoccupied at night, weekends and holidays? Many federal, state, county, city and other local governments buildings in Idaho.

  9. Boise has a very small homeless “problem” population because it does a “shamefully poor job” and the homeless know it!……There are plenty of blue states that will fill “their” needs and treat them better.This is by design (winkwink) and I’m grateful for it.

    Also the “drug problem” will be exploding ten fold as soon as the Treasure Valley gets a drug treatment/detox center!…..There are plenty of those centers in the surrounding states also!(winkwink)

  10. KevinK,
    So the fact that Boise doesn’t count its homeless like other communities in our state…means we don’t have any….I see. Okay, now I get it. I’m so relieved. So, it follows that, no detox…no drug problem. I love it. I wish I’d learned 40 years ago that life could be so simple.

  11. Tam,
    Boise DOES have a homeless “problem” and if the city “leaders” make it harder,by design,to get help and or survive winter on the streets they will go elsewhere……like a warmer,tolerant blue state!(and the Boise city “leaders” smile and wave good-bye.)

    The church “leaders”,as in every winter passed,are paying lip service to this plight to show they “care” about this matter.Are they willing to open their church doors to the “dirty and mentally ill” homeless MEN that reside in camps by the river,parks and vacant buildings or do they just want to help the “clean” homeless people who are down on their luck for the time being?……The Rescue Missions laughable bill board campaign is of a “clean,happy” homeless family!? Not a very good representation of the real “problem” and its people!

    Need drug treatment/detox?…..Try any of our surrounding states!(and the Boise city “leaders” point and wave good-bye.)
    Also,Explain why ones drug “use” becomes a “problem” only when one gets arrested or loses it all???……..Where are all these people crying out for help right now???…..Happily stoned,for the time being,I guess?

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