City of Boise Reaches Settlement Agreement, Ending Decade-Long Community House Controversy

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A line item on the agenda for the Oct. 7 Boise City Council Meeting reads "Settlement Agreement—Community House," but offers no detail yet concerning one of the most controversial chapters in the city's recent history.

Longtime Boise residents will remember when in the 1990s the city owned a homeless shelter, Community House, which was managed by Community House Inc, Providing shelter to men, women and children, the $2.6 million shelter was built at 13th and River streets—the same location where the Boise Rescue Mission's River of Life now operates for men only. The city tapped into $1.6 million from federal and state grants to cover some of the costs, while Community House collected contributions and assumed a bank loan, totaling more than $1 million. The city and Community House entered into a 50-year, $1-a-year lease for the family shelter.

But in 2004, the city took over management of Community House, sold the property to the Christian-based Boise Rescue Mission and promptly evicted women and children from the facility, before turning over the keys to the Rescue Mission to operate its own River of Life facility.

A near decade-long lawsuit followed, with Community House seeking a court injunction from leasing the shelter to the Rescue Mission. Ultimately, a jury awarded a $1 million judgement to Community House, ordering the city to pay the penalty plus significant legal fees (expected to come close to $2 million more). Additionally, the city had its own legal fees to contend with, especially considering that Boise had turned to outside counsel, the Boise-based Anderson, Julian and Hull, to handle its defense. 

Earlier this year, city officials indicated that they were still challenging the 2012 jury decision, and that the city's insurance could cover attorney fees.

Meanwhile, Community House continued to eke out an existence, operating a duplex that it rents to families in need.

But now, a settlement agreement is pending. The resolution before the City Council reads that the resolution ratifies "a settlement agreement between the City of Boise and Community House, Inc., regarding an action in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho."

An internal City Hall memo from the city's legal department indicates that the settlement "settles all judgments and claims."