- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Dozens of homeless people who have been staying at a Boise tent camp called Cooper Court have headed to other areas after authorities disbanded the camp.

Police said the camp must close by Saturday evening and offered temporary accommodations at a community center.

But some of the people affected say that’s not good enough, and they have nowhere to turn for longer-term shelter. The American Civil Liberties Union planned a candlelight vigil to protest the action.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter declared an emergency situation and police on Friday started the process of clearing the tent camp, which has been home to about 135 people. Bieter says the city’s existing homeless shelters have enough space for everyone.

People living at Cooper Court told the Idaho Statesman (https://bit.ly/1YR4VAP ) that they had different reasons for staying in tents instead of shelters. Some have dogs. Some have substance abuse or mental health problems. Some don’t want to comply with shelters’ lists of rules.

JoJo Valdez, a spokeswoman for the Cooper Court community, said everyone had something in common: the desire for independence.

“We want to be in charge of our own lives,” Valdez said. “We want to be our own bosses. We’re adults.”

Cat Wheaton, one of numerous concerned community members who showed up to lend support to the homeless, said she was astounded that the city’s plan didn’t appear to go beyond Saturday.

“There’s no resolution to this,” said the 24-year-old, who works busing tables. “Everybody have a happy holiday.”

City officials said a range of concerns arose at Cooper Court, including the number of people living in such a small area, difficulty of access for emergency vehicles, and the dangers of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning as people try to heat their tents. They said at least two tents have caught fire recently.

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