Update: Plans For New Boise Homeless Camp Fall Through

Dec 9, 2015

Jodi Peterson (right) Thursday night helped break the news to Cooper Court residents that the alley would be cleared the next day.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Update 1:55 p.m. Wednesday: A plan to relocate some of the homeless people ejected from a Boise tent city last week has fallen through after objections from potential neighbors.

Ron Lundquist owns the Riverside RV Park in Garden City. Lundquist had been in negotiations with advocates for the residents of the alley known as Cooper Court that was cleared by Boise Police last Friday. He says he had hoped to allow 20 former Cooper Court residents to stay for three months in 10 tents. But Lundquist says many of the occupants of the 80 RVs at his park came to him with complaints.

Lundquist says the complaints were not necessarily because protesters interrupted a Boise City Council meeting Tuesday. But he says each resident cited news reports about the clearing of Cooper Court. Some were bothered by footage of angry protesters near the alley Friday morning or at a vigil Saturday night. Others mentioned news reports that after Cooper Court was cleared a Hazmat team was called in to clean up. Lundquist says his renters did not make a distinction between the homeless people who might come to their park, others who had been staying in the alley and non-homeless protesters.

He says ending the negotiations was not an easy decision. He hopes to continue to talk to with homeless advocates but did not want hold out hope that his current customers would change their minds. 

Original Post: Advocates for Boise’s homeless have a new place for some of them to stay. For months, more than 100 people had been sleeping in a tent camp in an alley known as Cooper Court near downtown. Boise Police cleared the camp last Friday.

Jodi Peterson - who previously organized drives for tents and other supplies for alley residents - says starting this Saturday, 20 people will be able to camp legally. Peterson says a local RV/tent campsite owner has agreed to rent space for 90 days. Peterson says there will be space for 10 tents and a large community tent. She says it will serve the most vulnerable. 

“Those who will go into shelters have done so since the breakup of Cooper Court,” Peterson says. “Those who can’t go into shelters are living on the street, it’s been raining every night, they’re freezing, their health is declining rapidly.”

She says this new camp is for Cooper Court residents who are part of a population that is sometimes referred to as “shelter resistant.” Many of them, she says, have mental illnesses like schizophrenia or PTSD whose symptoms can be worsened by conditions at traditional homeless shelters.

“When they get into a setting like that it can make them behave badly,” Peterson says. “They can become aggressive because their anxiety level raises so high. So they become banned from shelters.”

Peterson is not yet disclosing where the camp will be. She says the goal is to get people settled in, first. Unlike the alley near downtown, this camp is not close to services homeless people rely on, but Peterson says it will be an easy bus ride to the part of town where those services are offered. 

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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