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(Anchorage Daily News)
Project-Based Housing First for Chronically Homeless Individuals with Ancohol Problems (PDF
Karluk Manor is a 46-unit housing residence located in downtown Anchorage. It is the first Housing First facility in Anchorage. Housing First is a best practice whereby chronic inebriates are provided permanent housing as the first step to self-sufficiency and community reintegration. Housing First has been shown to increase the success rate of its residents for maintaining long-term housing and to reduce society’s cost burden in providing services and emergency response to this population.
The Cost of Homelessness
Life on the streets is a costly proposition. For individuals, homelessness exposes them to more violence, more time in harsh conditions, more communicable diseases, poorer nutrition and poorer overall health. For society, the economic impact is enormous. Chronically homeless individuals disproportionately use emergency medical services, police and fire response, Community Service Patrol (CSP) pickups, the criminal justice system and social services. The estimated cost in Anchorage for a chronic homeless alcoholic is more than $60,000 annually.
* Based on data compiled from 2009-2010
Housing as the Solution
Research shows that the longer a person is without a permanent home, the higher the financial cost to society. Many in Anchorage’s chronically homeless population suffer a mental illness, or disabilities, in addition to alcoholism, that makes maintaining housing a challenge. Studies conducted on the Anchorage Homeward Bound Program show that individuals provided with a clean and safe place to live along with supportive services use fewer emergency services, commit fewer crimes and utilize more preventative care. Based on this successful program, credible research on Housing First practices, and the growing need to address this problem, the Rural Alaska Community Action Program developed the Karluk Manor project.
Karluk Manor includes 46 furnished efficiency units. Each unit is approximately 220 ft2 and includes one bathroom. The first building is a two-story structure with 10 units. The building has a main entrance/lobby area, an office, a laundry facility, and a storage room. The second building includes 36 units and is an elevated two-story structure with parking underneath.
Who is Eligible to Live at Karluk Manor?
People eligible to reside at Karluk Manor must be identified as a beneficiary of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, homeless according to the standards of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), must be known to be affected by chronic alcoholism, and must have an income below 30% of the area median income for a single person.
The primary means of referral is RurAL CAP’s outreach efforts, focused in the Fairview neighborhood and at social service agencies located near 13th Avenue and Gambell. RurAL CAP outreach staff locates the individuals who most frequently use emergency services and invite them to participate in an eligibility screening. Project staff finds these individuals through existing case management programs, staff at the crisis services providers and through other social services or other programs where chronic public inebriates go from time to time. If eligible, RurAL CAP’s project staff works with the individual to appropriately house them.
The secondary means of referral will be Fairview residents. Individuals identified by a Fairview resident who do not qualify for Karluk Manor will be referred to the city’s Mobile Outreach Team, once operational. Discussions will continue with the Municipality regarding referral procedures and if participants can be drawn from a list of chronically homeless individuals who incur the highest total cost and consumption of public services such as CSP and Anchorage Police Department (APD).
What Services Are Provided?
RurAL CAP provides specialized on-site services Residential Services Specialists (RSS). These Specialists provide a consistent presence so that residents may discuss their successes and concerns regarding independent living. The sense of community created by the work of the RSS also contributes to better relations between tenants, reducing the likelihood of conflicts between residents.
RSS staff will:
- Coordinate between social service providers and residents
- Facilitate the establishment of a healthy tenant community at Karluk Manor
- Foster strong buy-in by all residents to agreed-upon community standards and reinforce the consequences of continued violation of these standards (i.e. eviction) >
- Coordinate the service hours each resident is expected to contribute
Services provided on site will include the following:
- Assistance to access services: medical, mental health, financial, legal, employment
- Life skills training
- Crisis intervention and safety planning
- Community engagement activities
- Chore and housekeeping services twice a month
- Ensuring that those who qualify for low-income bus passes have access
- Providing meals delivered onsite7 days per week
Safety and Security
Karluk Manor is designed to promote the safety and well-being of residents, visitors and staff and to facilitate the appropriate delivery of services. Special attention is devoted to controlling building access, monitoring resident and guest activities, and ensuring RurAL CAP’s ability to respond quickly to minor and escalating incidents.
Exterior doors remain locked at all times. All visitors are directed through a single point of entry at the south building. This entry has an adjacent office for monitoring. Visitors must sign in and out. Staff may decline a visitor that is inebriated or otherwise a threat to residents or building.
At least two staff members are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the front office. This person screens visitors, answers phones, assists with tenant questions and problems, and responds to emergencies. Staff perform regularly scheduled wellness checks on residents. Staff also perform interior and exterior building checks twice daily, weekly unit checks and other regular safety checks around the perimeter of the property.
Traffic mitigation efforts include working with the Municipality to create bulb-outs, shortening distance of the crosswalks. In the past decade of traffic/pedestrian accidents, there have been two incidents in the project area.
Requirements of Tenants
- Must pay rent based on sliding fee scale
- May not panhandle or loiter on the premises or in surrounding areas
- Expected to contribute four hours a month to the project
- Must follow visitor policies and all guests must sign in and out of the building
- No smoking in rooms
- No drinking in common areas or outside
For more information, contact:
Melinda Freemon, Director, Supportive Housing Division
Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc.
120 N Hoyt St.
Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Phone: (907) 279-7535