Despite Threat Of Arrest And Bitter Cold, Homeless Stay Put In Boise Tent Camp

Dec 2, 2015

It’s been nearly two weeks since police warned residents of a tent city near downtown Boise to leave or face potential arrest. But, the tents are still up, and dozens of people are still sleeping in the alley known as Cooper Court despite the pre-dawn warning a week before Thanksgiving.

Lisa Veaudry with Corpus Christi House day shelter works with alley residents daily. She says a few alley residents have gone into the nearby Interfaith Sanctuary homeless shelter after a week of temperatures in the teens, but most people haven’t budged since the warning.

“They use hand warmers and foot warmers. They shove them into the bottom of their sleeping bags and then they just pile blanket on top of blanket on top of blanket,” Veaudry says. “Some people have tent heaters. Propane is rather expensive so they don’t run them the whole time.”

Veaudry thinks most people in the alley will stay put even if they think they're about to be arrested. 

“People are just waiting for whatever’s going to happen to happen,” Veaudry says. “They don’t have options. They don’t have any place to go. So they just take the criminalization of it as if it’s just the way it is.”

A Boise spokesman says the city is still planning what to do next. The city has long contended the camp is dangerous and unsustainable and that there is enough room in homeless shelters to accommodate the people in Cooper Court.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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