A new emergency homeless shelter has opened in Idaho Falls. KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz wanted to stop by and see inside and see how it operates. Plus, to Pay It Forward.
Promise Ridge is the name and it is brand new.
"Very. We've been open a week," said director Peggy Sharp.
"A week?" replied Kunz.
In that short time, they've already had families staying there.
"Any people yet?" asked Kunz.
"Three families," replied Sharp.
"Really?" said Kunz.
"Yeah," replied Sharp.
Sharp showed Kunz around the place.
"We didn't have to do anything. We didn't have to paint. We didn't have to repair anything. No, it was wonderful," said Sharp.
The facility has 26 beds for families to have a temporary place to stay while they get back on their feet.
"We could put two families in here, two good-sized families," Sharp said of one bedroom with multiple beds.
"Because you maximize with twin beds, the double down here, and the twin up here," said Sharp, pointing to one of the bunk beds.
The staff tries to make the place feel as much like a home as possible.
"Kids could do their school work or job hunting or apartment hunting," said Sharp, pointing out one of the table areas near the kitchen.
The new nonprofit works very closely with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and with an organization called Club Inc. in Idaho Falls. The local housing coalition meets once a month to discuss people in poverty and their housing situations. Sharp said for more than a year, they have identified a specific need within the community.
"There's a shelter for men. There's a shelter for women. And The Haven is open, but The Haven is so full it has a wait list. So it became very evident there wasn't a place for a family, who today presented itself as homeless. Where do we put them? And there wasn't anything for them," said Sharp.
Sharp said one of the biggest challenges for struggling families is the fact that housing costs have gone up, while wages have remained flat. Beyond that, there is indeed an often unseen homelessness issue locally.
"You don't see people sleeping in their cars. You don't see those things in Idaho Falls like you might in other larger cities, but what we have are people, families, doing what they call couch surfing. They live a few days with this friend and wear that welcome out and they live a few days with this friend, a few days with this friend, maybe grandma can take them, but she doesn't really. She lives in a studio apartment or something. And so it's just not a safe, consistent environment for children. They try to make sure they go back to their home school, but they're never quite sure where they might put their head down that night to sleep. And... how do you learn and grow when you have that uncertainty?" said Sharp.
Time to Pay It Forward.
"A lot of employers will just cut, especially right after Christmas. They cut hours," said Sharp sitting at the dining table.
"Peggy, how are you?" said a man walking into the dining room and interrupting the interview.
"Oh, I'm good. How are you?" asked Sharp.
"Good. I'm Kory (Carling) with Mountain America Credit Union," he said.
"Oh, OK. Did? Oh!" said Sharp, suddenly realizing what was happening.
"We've heard about what you're doing here," said Carling.
"I'm going, 'You're interrupting us,'" said Sharp.
"Yeah and I'm actually here today to Pay It Forward," said Carling.
"Oh, my gosh!" said Sharp.
"So what you're doing for our community is pretty awesome," said Carling.
"OK," said Sharp.
"And so on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, I brought with me today $500 that I know you are going to put towards good use to continue to impact our community," said Carling.
"Oh my word. We will," said Sharp.
"So on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, we'd like to Pay It Forward," said Carling.
"Well thank you so much Kory. This is a surprise! Thank you," replied Sharp.
"You betcha. Awesome job," said Carling.
"Oh yes. We have many needs here," said Sharp.
"You betcha," said Carling.
"OK. Thank you," said Sharp.
"You're welcome," said Carling.
"What a surprise," said Sharp. "Cathy, did you see what we got?" she asked, turning to another employee. "Oh, bless your heart," said Sharp, as she notice the employee crying.
"Will that help out?" Kunz asked the employee.
"It will help lots," said Cathy Leyba, the daytime house manager.
"Good," replied Kunz.
"We've really appreciated all the donations," said Leyba, wiping tears from her eyes.
"Yeah," said Sharp.
"All that's came in. People just keep asking, 'What can we do?' you know," said Leyba, referring to donations from the community.
There is always someone from the staff onsite at the shelter. There is a daytime house manager and two overnight onsite house managers who live there. If you know of a family who is homeless or need to contact Promise Ridge, the best way is through CLUB Inc. at 208-529-4673. Promise Ridge is located at 288 North Ridge Avenue in Idaho Falls.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "Pay It Forward" on the right side of our website and fill out the form, or send an email to KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at firstname.lastname@example.org.