- Harrison Berry
- Republic Waste workers disposing of items at Cooper Court Monday.
According to the office of Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, former residents of the now-closed tent city at Cooper Court have been returning to trade their possessions held in the encampment for Salvation Army vouchers.
"People have been coming back to Cooper Court and saying, 'We'll take the voucher—take our stuff,'" said city spokesman Mike Journee.
A police officer at the encampment said approximately 10 people had come to collect the $125 vouchers. It's all part of a cleanup operation in the ACHD-owned alleyway that began late Dec. 4, when Boise police removed residents from the area citing health and safety concerns.
Since then, 70 tents and other items in the alley have been cataloged and tagged, and are in the process of being moved to a storage location where they will be kept for 180 days, or until they are claimed by owners.
Friday, Bieter declared Cooper Court was an emergency situation, giving City Hall discretion to restrict access to the area and property held at Cooper Court. Emergency powers there expire at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11.
Journee said the operation, conducted by members of the Boise Police, Fire and Public Works departments, achieved its major goals, including moving residents without forcing anyone out or making arrests, and acting compassionately.
"That was hugely, hugely important to the spirit in which we conducted this," he said.
Nevertheless, Journee said turnout for the "hospitality tent" on River Street between Americana Boulevard and 15th Street, and at Fort Boise Community Center, where the city organized a variety of services and resources for the homeless, could have been better with 25 people arriving at the community center and 15 spending Friday night there.
"We wish more people had taken us up on the offer," Journee said.
The city's move to clear people from Cooper Court has been controversial, with scores of demonstrators showing up at the alley Dec. 4 to protest the city's action, and again at an ACLU rally Dec. 5.