Welcome to the initial home of the Boise Alternative Shelter Cooperative, or BASC project. Use the tabs above to learn more about this community initiative inspired by similar projects around the country. View the brief video at the right (or click here) to get a sense of what we might accomplish here in Idaho.

BASC is a privately funded response to Boise's current homelessness challenges. We seek to work in harmony with local government and nonprofit service providers on comprehensive and complementary strategies that support health and safety for the entire community—whether housed or unhoused.

We know this won't be easy and that many hurdles exist; we also recognize that winter is coming. We had hoped to have a pilot project in place—even if it involved a handful of experimental structures on private property—before temperatures drop into single digits again. Ultimately we hope to generate a community conversation on how to address housing and shelter needs for all residents, the foundation of a livable city.

The City of Boise and many local public and private partners are working to create what's known as 'permanent supportive housing.' This is conventional housing that is both affordable or subsidized and provides access to the supportive services crucial to move people out of chronic homelessness. This is a laudable goal and we support and encourage these efforts. We also recognize that this will take time.

Other long-term city goals rely in part on a new model called 'Pay for Success,' wherein an investor (in this case Goldman Sachs) puts up funding for projects and programs designed to yield specific social benefits. If those programs are deemed successful (number of persons served, for instance) then initial investors are repaid out of public funds. This is a relatively new experiment, and we hope it is successful.

Alternatives to what? Most people agree that the current informal tent city is unhealthy and unsustainable for everyone involved. If an option acceptable to key partners can be created, we support organized and accountable alternatives to haphazard encampments scattered along the Greenbelt and Boise River. Besides safety concerns, these clandestine campsites lack sanitation and pose serious environmental risks in sensitive riparian areas.

It won't happen overnight and it won't happen without a willingness on the part of local government and community members to try another experiment. This one may provide a privately-funded, grassroots bridge between instability and stability; between the status quo and a time in the future when our local housing market reflects the diverse needs and incomes within our community.

Check back for updates.

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