We are pleased to see so much interest in our work on solutions for homelessness. This is a complex issue with many root causes including illness, disability, addiction and family and historical traumas. It will require a range of solutions from short-term help with a job to addiction treatment to long-term supports and housing.
We sure couldn’t do this alone. We announced three key partners in September who join with us in committing a total of $40 million for this work over the next five years: Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, Providence Health & Services Alaska, and Weidner Apartment Homes. We see a critical mass of ideas, efforts and funds.
And so many more are helping! More than two dozen businesses and other organizations including all 12 Alaska Native regional corporations support the Path to Independence program, which is helping people get on their feet quickly with subsidies for housing and case management. This started as a small pilot last year and it is working. We are grateful for all our 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, Sealaska Corp., The Carr Foundation, United Way of Anchorage, Weidner Apartment Homes and Wells Fargo.
Others investing in Alaska solutions to homelessness include Cook Inlet Housing Authority, Southcentral Foundation, and two key government partners, Alaska Housing Finance Corp. and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Public dollars remain essential to ensure a basic safety net, while the private dollars open up new opportunities. Thanks to all funding partners!
All of this support builds on the essential services and systems already in place through Catholic Social Services, Bean’s Cafe, Covenant House, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and many more.
Early funding is helping to develop key data to inform the work. We finally are getting accurate counts of individuals receiving help and are figuring out ways to track people — and results — over time. We will soon be able to share this with the community.
Solutions can be expensive. To house someone in supportive housing with services attached costs on average more than $30,000 per year. But this is actually cheaper than the cost of people remaining homeless, with emergency rooms visits, emergency shelter, police and fire response, etc. We are willing to bet our own money that we can make a big change in Anchorage by investing in stuff shown to work: better coordination of services, rapidly housing people with short-term assistance, and yes, supportive housing for those with the most disabling conditions.
Get involved. Reach out. Stay tuned. There is so much more to come.