Continuum of Care & Homeless Prevention & Response System Meeting
For immediate release
June 24, 2022
Recording of June 23, 2022, All Continuum of Care & Stakeholder meeting is available on the ACEH YouTube channel.
Anchorage, AK – Yesterday, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) and the Advisory Council convened an all Continuum of Care meeting of the Homeless Prevention Response System (HPRS) in the last week before the closure of the Sullivan Arena. Both acknowledged the challenges of COVID and the new challenges with the closure of the mass care operations. Further, they remarked that the HPRS is stretched yet continues to show up and help those experiencing homelessness again and again. They asked that others join them in saying “THANK YOU!”
Before turning to the challenges, they highlighted the successes. First, the HPRS system is united and collaborates in real-time, particularly around the system capacity map and priorities. They expressed thanks for the continued partnership and the excitement at working on finding creative paths forward. Additionally, housing continues. Over 320 people have been housed since July 2021 and this does not count those individuals who are now in transitional housing opportunities through Housing Stability.
In addition to the successes, they highlighted the HPRS has seen significant challenges since June 1st when the Sullivan Arena stopped taking new clients and clients uncertain of where they would go at the closure started to leave the facility. Based on some technical assistance from HUD Disaster TA about how to ensure the closure goes as smoothly as possible and statements that APD will be present to assist with vacating the remaining residents,
ACEH has made an urgent request for only CIT-trained officers and the MCT to be at the Sullivan on 6/30 and transportation, meal vouchers, hygiene kits including masks and rapid test kits, along with other essential items, especially hot weather items, be provided during the closure.
We have also seen an increase in people experiencing unsheltered homelessness and highlighted some specific instances where this continues to be extremely challenging for several reasons.
- Continued hot weather and high fire danger present complicating factors around ensuring people have access to adequate food and water and hygiene needs;
- Outreach is already stretched thin with increased unsheltered individuals and now camps are being noticed for abatement with no identified shelter capacity despite numerous attempts to get that information from the Municipality;
- We’ve had at least one suspicious death of an individual experiencing homelessness; and
- We have families experiencing unsheltered homelessness for the first time in many years.
Additionally, notices about delays in getting the Human Services Community Matching Grants (HSCMG) funding for FY23 to programs that rely on this funding and direction from the Anchorage Health Department that the grants will not be available for expenses incurred prior to the awards which will leave program funding gaps. As we learn more about these impacts, we will need to strategize ways to meet the need to avoid program reductions, especially with no additional capacity to accept individuals who could be impacted.
Finally, CoC participants were encouraged to be fully engaged through the monthly Advisory Council meetings and committee meetings. These meetings are also a place for the public to get updates from the HPRS.
We don’t share these challenges to be discouraging, but to be transparent. With transparency, we can have an open and honest conversation about how we can leverage our resources and networks to meet these challenges. The HPRS cannot step in and meet all these challenges alone. We need the partnership of our local government. Without that partnership, we can try to band-aid the most urgent needs.
Contact: Sasha L. Zimmerman, 907-841-0644
About the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness
The mission of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness is to provide dynamic leadership in making homelessness rare, brief, and one time. As the lead for the Anchorage Continuum of Care, ACEH seeks to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts to quickly rehouse individuals and families experiencing homelessness while minimizing trauma and dislocation; promote access to services needed by individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and optimize self-sufficiency.
Thank you to all those who have answered the call and signed up to assemble outreach item kits for our unsheltered neighbors. These kits include cold-weather items and other essentials for individuals sleeping outside during this harsh winter weather.
At the Tuesday, November 22nd meeting of the Anchorage Assembly, a unified proposal for alcohol tax funding was passed.
The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides support through the Continuum of Care (CoC) to different types of housing programs. As the designated CoC lead, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness monitors the performance of these programs to understand how housing interventions function in Anchorage.