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Homeless Gathering

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Homelessness has been a hot topic in the Treasure Valley during the last few years, with shelter providers arguing over the best and most appropriate way to help the area's homeless population.

The First Presbyterian Church is hoping to get all the players at the table for an open discussion of how the various interests can work together to meet the needs of a diverse group of people.

How do you get these often fractured groups together? Host a public forum with the help of City Club Boise.

Said forum will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the First Presbyterian Church, 950 W. State St. The event will begin with a theological lecture at 5:30 p.m. followed by a dinner at the church. While the dinner will cost you only a $5 donation for homeless ministry, it is limited to 125 people and reservations are required.

The City Club Forum will begin at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The event will be moderated by retired Boise State political science professor Jim Weatherby.

"The notion behind it is to bring together people who have a stake in this that aren't normally together," said Mark Davis, lead minister at the church.

The panel will include representatives of Idaho Health and Welfare, the city of Boise's Catch program, Interfaith Sanctuary, the Salvation Army shelter, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Boise Rescue Mission.

"We want to talk about what kind of mix of government, non-governmental organizations, faith-based and secular [organizations] are going to ultimately be best for the problem," Davis said. "What's the right mix of services and the challenges with putting those services together?"

Davis said he hopes the different perspectives will eventually lead to a plan to address the homeless problem for the next decade, hopefully stemming a growing issue.

"Things are so fractured," Davis said. "There's not a lot of listening that goes on. There's a lot of telling and, sometimes, a lot of loud telling."

For more information or dinner reservations, call First Presbyterian Church at 208-345-3441 or visit First-Presbyterian.org

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