Anchored Home

Municipality of Anchorage’s Blog on Homelessness

Introduction

Welcome to Anchored Home, the Municipality of Anchorage’s blog on homelessness. This will be a monthly update for residents on what Mayor Berkowitz, the Municipality of Anchorage and its partners are doing to address the complex issue of homelessness as well as connect homeless community members to resources.

My name is Rosa Salazar, the Homelessness Resource Coordinator for the Municipality. As the resource coordinator, I am responsible for assisting municipal departments with communications in regards to GIS Mapping for homeless camps, providing detailed information to our residents, as well as connecting homeless individuals to shelter and other resources available.

This blog will provide a monthly snapshot of progress made, ongoing efforts, and opportunities to engage in efforts to reduce homelessness in Anchorage. You will also see informational documents, upcoming meeting dates including Assembly Homelessness Committee meetings, and other pertinent information. You can find program details about the Mayor’s initiatives and focus areas, frequently asked questions, as well as community plans for addressing homelessness on our official Housing and Homelessness webpage.

Over the past three years, we’ve implemented changes in policies, instituted training and built resources to reduce the need for emergency responses to the homeless services in East Downtown. A focus of the Berkowitz Administration has been to increase the right kinds of resources in the community and increase options for housing. This approach is working.

Mobile Intervention Team (MIT)

A significant piece of this approach is the Mobile Intervention Team (MIT), part of the Mayor’s Housing and Homeless Services grant. 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 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.

We expect more positive results as MIT continues to partner with APD, AFD, Parks and Recreation, & other various entities involved in housing the homeless. To date, the MIT and its partners have helped to reduce the emergency calls at Brother Francis Shelter and Bean’s Café by 40%.

Mayor Berkowitz was able to join the MIT as they conducted outreach earlier this month. Pictured: Melina Breland & Tanya Vandenbos (MIT), Officer Jones & Officer Korell (APD CAP), Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, Michael Riley (AFD), Mackenzie Pope ( VISTA) Photo Credit: Rosa Salazar

Camp Clean-up

Residents have requested monthly updates on the homeless camp clean-up process. Since January 2018, the Municipality of Anchorage has cleaned up 65 tons of trash from the old Alaska Native Medial site at 3rd Ave, Valley of the Moon Park, and Chester Creek. We are now working on the Russian Jack Park area. The next focus zone will be Campbell Creek from Elmore to Old Seward, Bicentennial, and then Mountain View. 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, throughout the fall and winter months as well.

On June 26, 2018, the Anchorage Assembly approved an ordinance adding a 10-day zone-based camp abatement process. This change will allow for the posting of a designated area and will help to streamline the clearing and cleaning of illegal campsites in the MOA. The ordinance, as amended, is available here.

The Assembly Homelessness committee meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month. The next meeting will be held on July 18th, 2018 at City Hall on the 8th floor. On the agenda: the unveiling of the 2018–2021 Strategic Action Plan to End Homelessness, which features six priority areas.

Our number one priority is housing, and in the next four to six months we hope to have up to 130 units available to house residents experiencing homelessness. Here are some projects that should help us get to that point.

Path to Independence — a project focusing on landlords identifying units to house people transitioning from homelessness. Up to 40 people will be housed in a time-limited (up to 6 months) rental assistance and case management program. The “Path to Independence” housing program is a pilot project that includes financial assistance for housing and employment-related expenses, case management, and employment opportunities. The program will place forty individuals in apartments owned by Weidner Apartment Homes and Cook Inlet Housing Authority for immediate housing stabilization, followed by employment preparedness and connectivity to community support organizations.

Temporary Housing Resources — a project focusing on people who need some assistance with mental health, medical services or other resources to transition to independence funded by Providence.

Youth demonstration housing program — a project focusing on youth with mental health, addiction or other medical needs to transition to stable supported housing with more flexibility in timeline for transition. Up to 30 youth will be assisted.

Continuum of Care — Community supported housing for people with mental illness, disabilities or other conditions — up to 20 units will be identified.

Pay for Success demonstration housing program — Ten people will be identified by November for the initial cohort of a demonstration project targeting reduced incarceration and homelessness. This project will serve up to 270 people over the next 3 years.

Summer Point-in-Time Count

In August, we will be conducting another Point-in-Time count (PIT). This activity counts sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night. The results from the summer PIT 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. Click here for more information on PIT count.

Interested in helping?

People often ask how they can be a part of the solution. The Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness is a great resource for connecting residents interested in getting involved in the solution. You can find more info here.

I also included some helpful links to different entities in Anchorage who are in need of volunteers at the end of this blog.

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 monthly blog and hope it helps to understand homelessness. Our goal is to increase communications. Feel free to reach out anytime by calling the Mayor’s Office at (907) 343–7100 or sending me an email at SalazarRI@muni.org.

Save the Date:

August 15th, 2018 11am-12:30pm — Assembly Homelessness cCommittee meeting

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

September 19th, 2018 11am-12:30pm — 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

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/