Anchored Home

Anchored Home: Municipality of Anchorage’s Blog on Homelessness

Hey all! Rosa Salazar back again with some more news and updates!

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This month I’d like to share some information about how the Municipality of Anchorage uses GIS to support its efforts in solving housing and homelessness issues.

The Geographic Data and Information Center supports all municipal departments by providing geographic data, data management, as well as supporting online reporting through #ANCWORKS. In addition to reporting a homeless camp, you can also ask questions or even send a note to the Mayor. I encourage you to submit through #ANCWORKS and utilize the tool as you see fit.

As a result of the work done by GIS, the Municipality of Anchorage now has a much better understanding of trends in the homelessness community and we’ve been able to increase social services to better meet the needs. The daily work by the Anchorage Police Department (APD), Parks and Recreation, and the Mobile Intervention Team (MIT) has increased efficiency, allowing more focus on doing the work rather than searching for camps or trash. The public has been an invaluable collaborator, with crowdsourced information serving as the basis for many of the reports.

The Municipality of Anchorage was one of 175 winners chosen from more than 100,000 organizations worldwide to receive the 2018 Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award. Anchorage was selected in the category of “Social Services” for the policy and technology work that has been done regarding homelessness in Anchorage.

Prior to this approach, communication between departments and the public was limited to push pin maps, emails and written descriptions of camp locations. Anchorage has implemented the proven “Housing First” policy as a tool in solving homelessness. For the approach to work, we needed technology to help reduce the time from contact to housing. The Mayor’s Office convened the Geographic Data and Information Center, APD, Parks and Recreation, the Homeless Coalition, United Way and the Anchorage community at- large to develop the technology, processes and information required to meet this need.

A case study of the Municipality of Anchorage GIS solution showcases the cross departmental approach. To learn more, follow the link below.

Anchorage GIS Homelessness Case Study

Additional details on the Municipality of Anchorage award can be found here:

Anchorage SAG Award

Tina Miller, the engineer and lead of the Municipality’s Geographic Data and Information Center, Sergeant Jennifer Haywood, Officer Sally Jones and Nancy Burke accepting the award at the annual GIS conference.

Mobile Intervention Team (MIT)

The MIT is a crisis intervention team targeting areas in Anchorage with high numbers of homeless camps and persons with mental illness or other disabling conditions. The purpose of the team is to engage, triage, and refer individuals to community services with available housing to decrease cycling through emergency services. An MIT provider assists in completing the APD forms for individuals camping within Anchorage’s city limits. We use this data in the Coordinated Entry System (CES) for housing through the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH), and to provide other services based on the individual’s unique needs. We can also identify subpopulations with this data and work with organizations that can best meet the needs of the largest subpopulations.

The MIT has been working closely with Brother Francis Shelter and Bean’s Café to reduce the number of emergency calls to their shared campus. Since beginning this work in January, calls have been reduced by 40%. MIT has provided trainings involving APD, Anchorage Fire Department (AFD), and Anchorage Safety Patrol (ASP). The purpose of these trainings is to help the entities have a better understanding of what each department does, what to do in certain situations, and how to respond.

Mayor Berkowitz visits Bean’s Café to thank them for reducing their emergency calls to their campus!

Camp Clean-up

Over the last few months, I have experienced the camp clean up efforts first hand. It has been a pleasure to work with Parks and Recreation, MIT, and Anchorage Police Department’s Community Action Police (APD CAP). The staff of each department are all dedicated to their tasks and are making a difference as we continue clean up.

Working in the field has provided me with a better understanding of the camp cleanup process. Once a camp has been posted, abatement and clean up can begin 10 days later. If the camp is unoccupied, the crew activates and begins clean up efforts. If there are occupants still in the camps when cleanup is scheduled to begin, residents are given some time to gather belongings before crews start their work.

One thing to remember, the MIT team provides outreach of social services to all camps prior to clean up. They make every effort to help resource individuals experiencing homelessness.

Mayor Berkowitz out with Parks and Recreation clean up crew

Since January 2018, the Municipality of Anchorage has cleaned up 191 tons of trash from the old Alaska Native Medial site at 3rd Ave, Valley of the Moon Park, Chester Creek corridor to Sitka Park, Tikishla, Russian Jack, Campbell Creek, and Mountain View. We are currently finishing up clean up efforts in Valley of the Moon area, as well as other areas of concern, such as 14th Ave, 3rd Avenue and Karluk, and Reeve Boulevard. When camps near schools come up, APD CAP team focuses on posting camps so clean up can happen prior to students arrival. The next focused area/zone was the Chester Creek, between A Street and C Street. This was the trial run of the Zone Ordinance that passed on June 26, 2018. Timelines for when camps will be posted and abated depends on the availability of staff and resources. Our Parks and Recreation Department, Anchorage Police Department, and Mayor’s Office make every effort to complete this process as quickly as possible, weather permitting.

Russian Jack camp before
Russian Jack camp after clean up

Assembly

The Assembly Homelessness committee meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month.

Anchored Home: Anchorage’s Strategic Action Plan to Solve Homelessness

On August 23, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced a new leadership team to help address the issue of homelessness in the Municipality of Anchorage. Anchored Home: 2018–2021, an update of the 2015 Anchorage Community Plan to End Homelessness, will formally launch in October 2018, following a public input process for the draft plan. Outreach includes meetings with community councils, community support organizations, providers, business and industry leaders as well as the public at large. This updated plan will provide timelines for specific project completion, assuring responsibility, and ensure accountability. Key pillars of Anchored Home include Housing and Support Systems, Public Health and Safety, and Advocacy and Funding. The public process of the draft plan, as well as the on-the-ground operational implementation of Anchored Home, will be led jointly by Nancy Burke, Housing and Homelessness Coordinator for the Municipality of Anchorage.; Jasmine Khan, Executive Director of the Anchorage Coalition to End homelessness; and Dr. Richard Mandsager, a three-year Senior Fellow position funded by the Rasmuson Foundation. Other supporting partners include United Way of Anchorage, Rasmuson Foundation and Providence Alaska Region.

The Anchorage Homelessness Community Leadership Council (HLC) is co-chaired by Senior Vice President and Chief Executive for Providence Alaska Region Bruce Lamoureux and Mayor Berkowitz, and for the first time brings together business, government, health, and faith leaders as the latest step in an effort with emerging, promising solutions. The members of the HLC include Mike Abbott, CEO for the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority; Sophie Minich, President/CEO for Cook Inlet Region, Inc.; Carol Gore, President/CEO for Cook Inlet Housing Authority; Gretchen Cuddy, community member-at-large; Rev. Matthew Schultz, Pastor of First Presbyterian church; Paul Landes for General Communication, Inc.; Diane Kaplan, President/CEO for Rasmuson Foundation; Dr. Richard Mandsager, Sr. Fellow for Rasmuson Foundation; Greg Cerbana, Vice President for Weidner Properties; and Joe Marushack, President of ConocoPhillips Alaska.

The HLC will meet every other month with the first meeting taking place in October. The implementation team will begin meeting with community groups in September. Comments on the proposed plan may be submitted to director@anchoragehomeless.com.

Three key pillars to Anchored Home

Summer Community counts

The first week of August we conducted a summer community count. This activity counts sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night. The results from the summer count will be released mid-fall. The number of homeless individuals in Anchorage, according to the 2017 HUD Point-in-Time count, was 1,087. This number included 162 children/youth and 809 single adults. In 2016, there were 1,105 people reported homeless, including 121 children/youth and 905 adults.

We would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time to help with the counts, and we look forward to working with everyone in January for HUD’s 2019 Winter Point-in–Time count.

Interested in helping?

People often ask how they can be a part of the solution. I’ve included some helpful links to different entities in Anchorage that are in need of volunteers.

While the process of solving homelessness may seem long, the end result will be a change in how we serve those in our community who are struggling with mental illness, disabilities, and economic distress that have put them out of their homes and seeking shelter. We encourage residents to rethink homelessness and to see that behind the eyes of every person experiencing homelessness there is a story that needs to be told and a solution that needs to be found. I look forward to continuing this blog and feel free to reach out anytime by calling (907) 343–4137, or by sending me an email to SalazarRI@muni.org.

Save the Date:

September 19, 2018 11am-12:30pm — Assembly Homelessness Committee meeting,

Mayor’s Conference Room, Suite 830,- City Hall, 632 W. 6th Avenue

September 22, 2018 7:30am — Oktoberfest Run to End Homelessness,c

49th State Brewing Company, 717 W 3rd Avenue

October 17, 2018 11am-12:30pm — Assembly Homelessness Committee meeting,

Mayor’s conference room, Suite 830, — City Hall 8th floor, 632 W. 6th Avenue

Important links:

Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness

https://anchoragehomeless.org/

Municipality’s Housing and Homelessness Webpage http://www.muni.org/Departments/Mayor/Pages/MayorsHousingandHomelessness.aspx

Outreach Coordination Partners:

Choices, Inc.

http://choices-ak.org/

Rural CAP, Inc.

https://ruralcap.com/

Veteran’s Administration

https://www.alaska.va.gov/

Covenant House

https://ak.covenanthouse.org/

Chris Kyle Foundation

https://www.chriskylefrogfoundation.org/

Cook Inlet Tribal Council

https://citci.org/

Anchorage Neighborhood Health Clinic

https://www.anhc.org/

Partners for Reentry

http://www.partnersforprogressak.org/partners-reentry-center/

Anchorage Community Mental Health Services

https://www.acmhs.com/

South Central Foundation

https://www.southcentralfoundation.com/

Access Alaska

http://accessalaska.org/

Anchorage Downtown Partnership

https://anchoragedowntown.org/

To be a part of the solution:

https://ak.covenanthouse.org/Volunteer-opportunities

https://www.beanscafe.org/volunteer/

https://www.cssalaska.org/get-involved/volunteer/

http://www.awaic.org/get-involved/volunteer

https://www.liveunitedanc.org/working-together/volunteer/

https://www.downtownhopecenter.org/volunteer-sign-up

https://www.anchoragerescue.org/how-to-help/

http://www.anchoragerunningclub.org/Oktoberfest.html