Rasmuson Foundation 2018 Annual Letter

Ending homelessness

A man sleeps in an alcove along Fifth Avenue in downtown Anchorage. (Photo by Bob Hallinen)

‘Impossible on the street’

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    Anchorage Homelessness Leadership Council

  • Mike Abbott, CEO, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority
  • Ethan Berkowitz, mayor of Anchorage and council co-chair
  • Greg Cerbana, vice president of Weidner Apartment Homes
  • Gretchen Cuddy, community member-at-large
  • Greg Deal, Alaska regional president of Wells Fargo Bank
  • Carol Gore, president/CEO of Cook Inlet Housing Authority
  • Diane Kaplan, president/CEO of Rasmuson Foundation
  • Bruce Lamoureux, regional chief executive of Providence Health & Services Alaska
  • Paul Landes, senior vice president of General Communication Inc.
  • Dr. Richard Mandsager, senior fellow with Rasmuson Foundation and staff support to council
  • Joe Marushack, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska
  • Sophie Minich, president/CEO of Cook Inlet Region Inc.
  • Rev. Matthew Schultz, pastor of First Presbyterian Church

    Path to Independence funding partners

  • Ahtna Corp.
  • Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority
  • Aleut Corp.
  • Arctic Slope Regional Corp.
  • Bering Straits Native Corp.
  • BP Alaska
  • Bristol Bay Native Corp.
  • Calista Corp.
  • Chugach Alaska Corp.
  • ConocoPhillips Alaska
  • Cook Inlet Region Inc.
  • Doyon Ltd.
  • First National Bank Alaska
  • GCI
  • Koniag Inc.
  • Municipality of Anchorage
  • NANA Corp.
  • Providence Health & Services Alaska
  • Rasmuson Foundation
  • Sealaska Corp.
  • The Carr Foundation
  • United Way of Anchorage
  • Weidner Apartment Homes
  • Wells Fargo

From his tent in the woods, Peter said, it sure was hard to see that bright future adults always talk about. From the shelter, Sam said, the view wasn’t much better. Now in their first apartment, Peter and Sam have a new perspective. This young couple are among the first participants in Anchorage’s promising pilot project, Path to Independence. “It’s like training wheels for an apartment,” Sam said.

This route to a more stable life is part of the Foundation’s new multiyear Homelessness Initiative. Foundation Chairman Ed Rasmuson pressed for action. “He wouldn’t let it go,” Foundation President and CEO Diane Kaplan said. Community leaders were ready. The board in November agreed to act. First steps are being taken to house people who have been chronically homeless, provide supports, and collect data to track results. Former hospital executive Dick Mandsager serves as the Foundation’s senior fellow on homelessness. The new Anchorage Homelessness Leadership Council, co-chaired by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and Bruce Lamoureux of Providence Health & Services Alaska, was created with Foundation help.

Already, Path to Independence, designed for those who are ready to work, offers temporary rent subsidies, help with job searches and navigation of issues through case managers and a landlord liaison. The Foundation convened philanthropic organizations and asked them to invest. The result: “more money more quickly than we ever thought possible,” said Gabe Layman, chief operating officer of Cook Inlet Housing Authority, one of two landlords already involved. The other is Weidner Apartment Homes, among 23 funders that have contributed more than $700,000 including all 12 Alaska Native regional corporations.

Peter, 20, and Sam, 19, met last year at Covenant House. “We applied for jobs but not with the same vigor as we have now because we have something to work for,” Sam said. “It felt impossible when we were on the street.”

Peter and Sam (photo by Jessie Taliva)

Move-In Day: Keana Martin, community director of Weidner Apartment Homes, in December handed the key over to Peter as his partner Sam looked on. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Social Services)

In December, the couple moved into a Weidner apartment with a welcome basket of household supplies from Catholic Social Services, which provides case management for Path to Independence. Their share of rent started at $315 monthly. The test comes in July when they will owe the whole $900. In late spring, Sam landed a new job. After months of looking, Peter was in the process of getting one too. He couldn’t wait. From his first home of his own, he sees what’s at stake.

52 children and adults Path to Independence participants housed as of April 30, 2019
19 Heads of Household Number of participants employed as of April 30
Milestones
  • Creation of Anchorage Homelessness Leadership Council
  • Adoption of Anchored Home, Anchorage’s 3-year plan to end homelessness
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