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Sanctuary On the Up and Up


The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously on Monday to legitimize a facility that backers hope will soon be a fixture on the downtown scene. The commission approved a conditional use permit for Sanctuary, the nondenominational homeless shelter that has been operating at capacity since last December 26 at 1317 W. Jefferson. Though the shelter will close at its current location on March 31, spokesman Will Rainford said the permit makes the future of the project far brighter.

"We have always been full partners with the city in this process. Unfortunately, without the permit, we couldn't do anything officially with them," he said. " Now they're able to join us both in implementation of services at sanctuary, and in future planning of where to go from here."

Within days, Rainford said, Sanctuary will be able lease several bunk beds from the city, which were formerly used at the now-defunct shelter Community House. Until now, women at Sanctuary have been sleeping on cots, and men have been on the floor. In the longer term, "Sanctuary will become a 501(c)3, and we are planning to hold a homeless summit with the city, where anyone with a stake in the homeless community, or who is interested in serving the homeless community, will be invited to come to the table," Rainford said. He said the shelter's organizers have received thousands in contributions from a wide range of churches, businesses and individuals, and they plan in time to purchase a building in the downtown core for a permanent version of Sanctuary.

"There are people all over Boise who wish they could help people who are homeless, but didn't feel comfortable supporting the only game in town," Rainford said. "This support is indicative of the fact that we need to move forward, and we intend to move forward in a mindful, planned way.