About Us

Formed in 1993, the Homeless Coalition in Boise/Ada County is a diverse membership group of homeless service provider agencies, homeless persons, volunteers, advocates, and concerned individuals committed to ending homelessness through public education, policy advocacy, and coordinated services. Members of the Coalition act as a voice so that no homeless or at risk individual or family shall be without proper services or needed assistance; and provides a forum for exchanging information between member agencies and individuals.

intefaith sanctuary OUR VALUES

The membership of the Boise/Ada County Homeless Coalition agrees:

• To treat all people with dignity and respect,

• That homelessness is unacceptable in our community, and requires the application of our collective compassion, resources, advocacy and action.

• To recognize each individual and family's right to stable, safe, and affordable housing, quality medical and mental health care, food, clothing, education and sustaining income and/or employment.

• To encourage best practices, while advocating for change and innovation.


How many people are homeless in Ada County?
There is no easy answer to this question and, in fact, the question itself is misleading. In most cases, homelessness is a temporary circumstance -- not a permanent condition. A more appropriate measure of the magnitude of homelessness is the number of people who experience homelessness over time, not the number of "homeless people."

Studies of homelessness are complicated by problems of definitions and methodology.  Nevertheless, the most recent statewide point-in-time count ,conducted January 29, 2014, identified 753 homeless men, women, and children in Ada County (59 more individuals than in January 2013) and 2,104 homeless men, women, and children throughout the State of Idaho (323 more individuals than in January 2013).  The “Homelessness in Idaho 2014 Point-In-Time Count Report” is available at

How do you define “homeless”?

According to the Stewart B. McKinney Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11301, et seq. (1994), a person is considered homeless who "lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence; and... has a primary night time residency that is: (A) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations... (B) An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or (C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings." The term “homeless individual” does not include any individual imprisoned or otherwise detained pursuant to an Act of Congress or a state law." 42 U.S.C. § 11302(c)

The education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act includes a more comprehensive definition of homelessness. This statute states that the term ‘homeless child and youth’ (A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence... and (B) includes: (i) children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and includes children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement; (ii) children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a private or public place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings... (iii) children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings, and (iv) migratory children...who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii). McKinney-Vento Act sec. 725(2); 42 U.S.C. 11435(2).

Other federal agencies, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), interpret the McKinney-Vento definition to include only those persons who are on the streets or in shelters and persons who face imminent eviction (within a week) from a private dwelling or institution and who have no subsequent residence or resources to obtain housing. This interpretation of homelessness serves large, urban communities where tens of thousands of people are literally homeless. However, it may prove problematic for those persons who are homeless in areas of the country, such as rural areas, where there are few shelters. People experiencing homelessness in these areas are less likely to live on the street or in a shelter, and more likely to live with relatives in overcrowded or substandard housing (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1996).

Who is homeless?
Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty. Persons living in poverty are most at risk of becoming homeless, and demographic groups who are more likely to experience poverty are also more likely to experience homelessness.

The homeless include: unaccompanied men, unaccompanied women, youth aging out of foster care, families with children, victims of domestic violence, veterans, the unemployed, persons suffering from mental illness, and persons suffering from addiction disorders. 

How can I help someone who is homeless?

Most local resources and service provider agencies can be found in our local Self Rescue Manual