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In 2020, approximately 4,035 people experienced homelessness in Ada County. This accounts for 44% of all people experiencing homelessness in the state of Idaho. Not all individuals who experience homelessness need shelter services; however, the need for services is only increasing as COVID-19 related housing protections and resources for populations experiencing homelessness disappear. Four emergency homeless shelters currently serve specific populations in the City of Boise. Idaho Youth Ranch’s Hays House serves youth, Boise Rescue Mission’s River of Life serves men while the same organization’s City Light serves women and children, and Interfaith Sanctuary serves men, women, and families with children.

Interfaith Sanctuary is seeking to improve their service approach by developing a new emergency shelter facility. Their most recent proposal plans to offer 200 beds as well as on-site supportive services. These services include but are not limited to transportation, medical care, case management, food services, and educational programs. This approach is common among successful shelter systems.

While planning the new shelter, community members expressed concern and opposition to the project. This report attempts to address this concern and opposition by answering the following research questions:

  • How have other communities successfully moved through the siting of emergency shelters effectively and collaboratively?
  • How can the siting of a shelter in a community meet the needs of both the community and homelessness response services?

The report includes strategies for identifying shelter sites, community engagement ideas, and examples of shelter programs experiencing similar challenges in nearby and peer communities.


This report was prepared by Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University for City of Boise’s Shelter Better Taskforce.