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Social work student prompts Nampa to designate public buildings as warming spots

Cooper Court, a former tent city in Boise.
Kyle Green
/
Idaho Statesman
As temperatures drop, cities like Nampa and Boise are reminding people they can access public buildings during opening hours to warm up.

For the first time, Nampa is designating public buildings as warming spaces for those who need to escape the elements during the day. The initiative was prompted by one Northwest Nazarene University student.

Social work student Courtney Williams had to come up with an idea that would make a big impact in the community for a class assignment. She was working as an intern for housing nonprofit CATCH and knew Nampa had set up cooling stations in the summer.

She thought, what about warming stations for people experiencing homelessness in winter?

“They're individuals and humans like everybody else, and they deserve to have basic rights met,” she said. “And if that's staying warm during the day while it's snowing or it's freezing outside. It's great that they have the opportunity to do that.”

Williams made some phone calls and got connected to Nampa representative Amy Bowman. This week, the city announced it designated four public spaces as warming spots.

“We just wanted people to know if they did need a place to go during the day, that our public buildings are available during business hours,” Bowman said.

The warming stations are located at Nampa’s Public Library, City Hall, Harvard Rec Center and the Hugh Nichols Public Safety Building. These are not day shelters but places to take a break from the cold.

Idaho saw its coldest November in 22 years this season, with higher and earlier snowfall than usual. Social workers and researchers are seeing more individuals and familiesexperiencing homelessness in Idaho amidst increasing housing costs.

“I know it's just a Band-Aid,” added Williams, “but I do feel like it's still a step in the right direction.”

Find reporter Julie Luchetta on Twitter @JulieLuchetta.

I joined Boise State Public Radio in 2022 as the Canyon County reporter through Report for America, to report on the growing Latino community in Idaho. I am very invested in listening to people’s different perspectives and I am very grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with me. It’s a privilege and I do not take it for granted.

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