Idaho’s ongoing challenges related to affordable and accessible housing, especially in Boise and Ada County, have been well-chronicled recently.
The current housing crisis has had a significant impact on struggling families. At any given moment, more than 100 families in Ada County are experiencing homelessness and are on a waitlist to move into an affordable unit.
The average length of time for families spent toiling on standby? Two years.
In response, Our Path Home, a local public-private partnership working to end homelessness, in partnership with nonprofit organizations CATCH, Jesse Tree and the Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority, has launched a moonshot: the “Campaign to End Family Homelessness.”
“In a nutshell, the Campaign to End Family Homelessness is an effort to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring,” said Stephanie Day, executive director at CATCH, a Boise-based agency committed to addressing homelessness.
“That is the ultimate goal.”
Naturally, the groups would like to completely eradicate family homelessness, but are dedicated to achieving “functional zero” — preventing homelessness as much as possible, rapidly rehousing families within two months when it does happen and ensuring it doesn’t happen again for those families.
The campaign’s aim is to raise $8.6 million, which will be used to increase staffing at supportive agencies and boost housing resources. Acknowledging the intricate connection between housing and health, St. Luke’s has pledged support to join the campaign.
“Our mission is to improve the health of people in the communities we serve, and we know people have little chance to pursue their healthiest lives when they struggle to find safe, stable and affordable housing,” said St. Luke’s President and CEO Chris Roth.
“Recognizing that link between housing and health, we are deeply involved in and supportive of the Campaign to End Family Homelessness.”
Roth and Beth Toal, St. Luke’s vice president for communications, marketing and community health, serve on the campaign’s leadership advisory committee. Several current and former members of the St. Luke’s Health System Board of Directors are also part of the effort.
“People have physical health needs; they have mental health needs,” Day said. “We really need each other in this system, and I’m really glad to have partners (like St. Luke’s) that love to collaborate like we do.”
In recent years, St. Luke’s has taken an active role in efforts related to addressing and preventing homelessness, awarding Community Health Improvement Fund grants to a variety of housing organizations and also supporting the housing first initiative New Path Home.
“It feels like ‘brothers in arms,’ moving this giant boulder up a hill together,” Day said. “I know that the work that we do is so interconnected. It feels like the level of collaboration and integration between our housing interventions and the health care interventions are aligning in ways that haven’t before.
“It is really encouraging to me. Housing is super essential for someone to stabilize with their health.”
Daniel Mediate works in the St. Luke’s Communications department.