The ‘Relentless Pursuit’ of Eliminating Chronic Homelessness

Boise looks to the Pay for Success model

By George Prentice @georgepren

In 1933, as the United States was mired in a historic economic depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt summed up his approach to stanching the loss of jobs, property and wealth: “Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.”

More than 80 years later, economic cycles continue to rip the fabric of American society. At last count in January, there were still nearly 2,000 Idaho men, women and children without a home, 13 percent of whom are considered chronically homeless—meaning they either have a disabling condition, have been continuously homeless for a year or more or have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

“How many homeless people is it OK to have sleeping on the street at night? Of course none is the only answer, the only one that we can ever allow,” said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter in his State of the City address in September. “This is the time to take on one of our most challenging issues.”

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