The homeless will soon have more options to help them find affordable housing (IdahoOnYourSide)

By Tammy Scardino

City of Boise officials have a goal to do away with homelessness in the Treasure Valley.

It's quite the task to take on, but they don't expect to do it all on their own.

The number one overall contributing factor to homelessness is a lack of affordable housing.

Through a series of forums meant to generate ideas on how to tackle this issue, two different programs have emerged to help get people off the streets.

Trying to find a place to rent in Boise can be a daunting task for anyone as the current state of the rental market is highly competitive.

So, if you have bad credit or a botched tenant history, the odds of getting a call back are slim to none.

Most families can't afford the security deposit, along with first and last month's rent.

"If you're working minimum wage in Idaho, you can hardly afford an apartment in Boise," said Henry Krewer with the Corpus Christi House. "And, if you have a family, God love ya. I don't know how they do it. No wonder they're in their cars."

Krewer feels honored to represent one of the many non-profits working toward a solution.

The initial conversation began several months ago when Mayor Beiter sat down with local property managers. The landlords said they want to help people out but need backing.

The new, HELP program, or Housing Education and Leasing Partnership, does just that and more.

Those struggling to find housing can take a course and receive a certificate they can provide when applying for housing.

Plus, landlords can refer a struggling tenant to the HELP program providers before it gets to the point of eviction.

"This is an opportunity for them to reach out and do something for this person and help them because they've gone through this program, I understand what I can do to help them get back on their feet," said Mike Journee, City of Boise communications director. 

The City of Boise has teamed up with El-Ada Community Action Partnership to provide the HELP services. The program will be up and running by June 1. For more information, dial (208) 345-2820.

The other program discussed at Thursday's round table discussion on Boise State's campus, is called "Pay for Success."

The outcome-based program is meant to be more far reaching in the valley and needs partners to make it work.

No matter what the outcome, Krewer says action needs to be taken.

"In Boise, homelessness always has been safe. People always told us that it was safe to be homeless. But lately, it's not becoming that way," he said.

Have ideas you want to share?

The next opportunity is on June 3. The Homeless Coalition meeting is open to the public and starts at 9 a.m. The meeting takes place on the first floor of the housing building right behind The Flicks movie theater.