'Housing First' is an evidence-based approach to ending homelessness that provides dignity to persons experiencing homelessness and saves our community money. It is the most effective approach to ending homelessness. It centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing and then providing intensive supports and services that address each person’s unique needs. In Boise/Ada County, our goal is to implement Housing First projects that will help address the needs of those people in our community experiencing chronic homelessness.
New Path Community Housing
The Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA) and the City of Boise have teamed up through a joint request for proposal (RFP) released on February 9, 2016. Closed in September, this RFP called for a team of service providers to work with a development team to build approximately 25 housing first units in the community. Both IHFA and the City of Boise are committing significant financial resources to the winning proposal to ensure viability.
In early November 2016, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association’s resource committee approved the application for tax credits and HOME funding for a Housing First project.
Ada County also has conditionally awarded a contract to Terry Reilly Health Services, through a request for proposals process, to provide the “wrap-around” services for the residents of the new initiative.
Called New Path Housing, the project will offer 40 units of permanent supportive housing to those experiencing chronic homelessness in our community. The project is proposed for a location at the intersection of 23rd Street and Fairview Avenue. Construction will likely begin in Fall 2017.
Read the IHFA Press Release: Boise's Housing First Effort Moves Forward
Housing First Coalition
The New Path Community Housing project is the result of nearly two years of work through the Housing and Homelessness Roundtable and involves commitments from eight corporate, governmental and non-profit partners.
In February 2016, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association and the City of Boise contributed significant financial resources to the creation of a Housing First project. IHFA committed up to $5.75 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits available under its special housing needs set aside to fund the project. The City of Boise will contribute up to $1 million in one-time money to augment land acquisition and construction costs.
Over the summer, Ada County and Boise’s two major health care systems – St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus – joined the original partners in the effort to create permanent supportive housing options in the community. Ada County contributed $250,000 to the effort and Saint Alphonsus Health System and St. Luke’s Health System will each contribute $100,000 to fund the supportive services component of the project. The United Way of Treasure Valley and the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation have also stepped up to support the Housing First concept.
On November 17, 2016, Boise area leaders and national experts gathered for a discussion on the current state of homelessness in Ada County.
On a parallel path to the pursuit of a Housing First option, members of the Boise City/Ada County Continuum of Care, the community’s homeless service providers, have been working out the details of a new system for delivering services to those experiencing homelessness.
Currently, those seeking services are required to apply to each provider individually. Navigating such a dispersed and diverse system creates huge challenges for an often traumatized, institution-averse and transportation-challenged population. Because individual providers offer a variety of different levels and types of service, those seeking help often find themselves unable to match services with their needs.
Coordinated Entry will be a new, centralized process for prioritizing needs and aligning available services with those needs. Using a set of agreed upon standards, the Continuum of Care will prioritize the need and participating providers will cooperate to funnel the right resources to the right person. Applicants will have a single point of entry into the community-wide pool of available services.
This new system will be used to prioritize the chronically homeless for the new units in New Path and other Housing First initiatives in the future.