‘Reprehensible.’ Vandal pastes over welcome sign at proposed Boise homeless shelter

·3 min read

When Jodi Peterson-Stigers first saw the photos sent to her Sunday morning, she cried.

As Interfaith Sanctuary’s executive director, Peterson-Stigers has faced opposition to the homeless shelter in recent months. But what took place during the weekend brought the opposition to a new level.

A sticker symbolizing a “do not” sign was plastered over a window of Interfaith’s building at 4306 W. State St. in Boise, the site of a controversial proposed new shelter. The sticker covered up a painted sign that read, “You are welcome here.”

“When you see the ‘You are not welcomed’ sticker on the window of that building, that speaks more toward hate and has very little to do with concern,” Peterson-Stigers said in a phone interview. “It’s even more frightening when hate is so openly displayed.”

Interfaith is in the middle of applying for a conditional use permit through the city of Boise to use the State Street building as a shelter. Interfaith reactivated the application in late September after it had been on pause since June.

Peterson-Stigers said much of the opposition has come from a “voice of concern” of people wanting Interfaith to “do shelter better.” Her counterargument, though, is that the current River Street location is too small and the State Street location provides an opportunity to better accommodate the growing need.

There’s been significant pushback to the State Street site, most recently through the vandalism this weekend.

“That is reprehensible,” Interfaith Sanctuary Board President Andy Scoggin said in a statement. “But, we will move forward in protecting and serving our guests/friends regardless of those who, through small-mindedness, prejudice, misplaced fear and, in some cases, actual hate, try to limit our mission.”

In September, the city’s Shelter Better Task Force released a report saying it found few shelter options better than the State Street site.

A sticker was placed on a window at Interfaith Sanctuary’s State Street location in Boise displaying a message that the controversial proposed shelter isn’t welcome at the location. The application for the shelter was reactivated in late September.
A sticker was placed on a window at Interfaith Sanctuary’s State Street location in Boise displaying a message that the controversial proposed shelter isn’t welcome at the location. The application for the shelter was reactivated in late September.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean called the vandalism “reprehensible” in a series of tweets Monday and wrote “there is no place for these actions in our community.”

With the application process ongoing, Peterson-Stigers was frustrated by the vandalism and the opposition to the new location.

“It’s just one more punch to the gut as we attempt to provide better shelter for our community,” Peterson-Stigers said. “That’s exactly what we do. It’s just not who we’re supposed to be as a community. We’re supposed to take care of our most vulnerable. It’s our responsibility.”

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