Tune in tomorrow and Friday for the Anchorage Housing Summit
Alaska Ski For Women
Alaska Ski for Women is on February 5th! Every year the NSAA puts on an exciting and fun-filled day of skiing. Proceeds benefit programs that work tirelessly to break the cycle of violence and support domestic violence survivors. The children’s program at AWAIC is partially funded by this event. Learn More…
Local Housing & Homelessness Highlights
Municipality of Anchorage (MOA)
Former Golden Lion Hotel To Be Turned Into Low-Income Housing
Mayor Dave Bronson announced that the former Golden Lion Hotel will be used as a rooming house to provide housing options for low-income residents and those experiencing homelessness in Anchorage.
“As we work together to make sure no one sleeps in the cold, I have directed my team to implement a plan that allows the former Golden Lion Hotel to be used in an efficient manner that helps as many people as possible,” said Mayor Bronson. “I am committed to working with community partners and the Anchorage Assembly to quickly bring this resource online.”
The former Golden Lion Hotel, located on the corner of 36th Ave. & the New Seward Highway, was purchased by the prior Administration following the sale of ML&P. The Assembly passed AR 2022-33 requesting the Golden Lion be used as a rooming house, that would serve as a place to house those experiencing homelessness.
The Administration has conducted a site evaluation of the building. Initial cost estimates to bring the building into compliance and suitable for housing, are around $700,000, but could potentially go higher because the fire suppression system is not fully operational.
National Housing & Homelessness Highlights
Insights on the federal strategic plan on homelessness
The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness released All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. In it, the Biden-Harris Administration set an ambitious and important goal to “reduce homelessness by 25% by January 2025 and set us on a path to end homelessness for all Americans.”
Community Solutions supports this plan and applauds that its goal reflects the urgent need to equitably reduce homelessness and the human suffering that results from it. The ambitions of this aim rise to meet the degree to which the lives of our most marginalized neighbors are at stake.
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
Rapid Rehousing Roundtable Discussion Series – Landlord Engagement and Unit Acquisition – Part 2
HUD is sponsoring a second round of the Rapid Rehousing (RRH) Roundtable Discussion Series. Sessions will take place every six weeks, with topics to be determined along the way. Each webinar in the series will host a facilitated dialogue amongst a small group of panelists and will include an opportunity for participants to submit questions to the panelists and technical assistance (TA) providers. Learn how to join the second session on January 19, 2023.
In 2022, HUD sponsored the first round of the roundtable discussions to identify, imagine, and increase trends that support innovation in RRH services and programs. Practitioners, policy-makers, and people with lived experience of homelessness shared their thoughts, challenges, and promising practices on topics including racial equity, assertive engagement, and landlord recruitment. View materials and recordings from the previous sessions.
Participants will learn about:
- Advancing equity throughout Rapid Rehousing design and implementation
- Maximizing limited resources
- Staffing models and practices that promote equity and improve outcomes
- Effective strategies for engaging with landlords and identifying housing pathways
- Service delivery strategies
Homeless Encampment Sweeps May Be Draining Your City’s Budget
Amid rising inflation and lack of available, affordable housing, homelessness has been increasing to crisis levels in the United States. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, between 2016 and 2020, there was a 6 percent jump in rates of overall homelessness.
During this period, unsheltered homelessness rates increased by 20 percent. Unsheltered homelessness was especially prominent on the West Coast and among women, Black and Latinx people, and people not experiencing chronic homelessness.
Though the reasons for recent increases in unsheltered homelessness are well researched and documented and include the rise of the cost of living, lack of affordable housing, and a lack of resources for people experiencing homelessness, many of the most common responses to homelessness encampments are implemented by law enforcement and fail to address the root causes—while costing cities substantial amounts of money.
People who experience unsheltered homelessness are more likely to have interactions with law enforcement (PDF), such as through homeless encampment sweeps. This contributes to the revolving door of homelessness and incarceration and other legal system involvement, which places immense financial burdens on communities.
Evidence suggests alternative solutions, such as permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing, reduced police involvement, and wraparound services, are more effective and can help reduce financial burdens on city budgets.
The cost of encampment sweeps versus evidence-based solutions
In urban areas, homeless encampment sweeps, in which law enforcement officers or sanitation workers remove entire communities, are a common response to unsheltered homelessness. Sweeps reduce the visibility of homelessness, but evidence shows they only further displace unhoused people and do not address its root causes.
Sweeps exacerbate negative outcomes for people experiencing homelessness while straining city budgets. An Abt Associates report showed that responding to homeless encampments cost Houston, TX $3,393,000 and San Jose, CA $8,557,000.
When addressing the homeless crisis, policymakers should consider using the following alternatives to police responses to homelessness. These alternatives can both improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness and save cities money.
- Community response teams. Using community response teams can be a cost-effective strategy in addressing homelessness. The Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets program in Eugene, Oregon, dispatches medical and mental health crisis workers instead of law enforcement. After the program began, the police department saved an average of $8.5 million a year (PDF) during a three year span (2014–17). For communities that have implemented community response teams, evidence shows increases in public safety, fewer and lower rates of suicide, and significant drops in the use of emergency departments.
- Continuums of care. Coupled with Housing First, continuums of care provide services such as intensive case management, critical time interventions, and assertive community treatment (ACT). These interventions have been shown to reduce the number of days spent homeless as well as alcohol and substance use, and ACT has been shown to be cost-effective compared with standard case management. One 2020 study showed that 69 percent of the costs of an ACT intervention were offset by savings in other costs such as emergency shelters.
- Supportive housing. Research shows it costs taxpayers $31,065 a year to criminalize a single person experiencing homelessness while the yearly cost for providing supportive housing is $10,051. And in the Urban Institute’s evaluation of the Denver Social Impact Bond Initiative, researchers found that program participants experienced fewer interactions with law enforcement, reductions in jail stays and time spent in jail, reduced stays in shelters, and reduced use of short-term or city-funded services, such as detoxification services, when they receive such housing.
The evidence shows encampment sweeps don’t solve the root causes of homelessness and may exacerbate negative outcomes for unhoused people. Leveraging these solutions could help reduce financial burdens on city budgets while improving the health and well-being of people experiencing homelessness and communities as a whole.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)
All In Webinar Recording & Slides Now Available
In this USICH webinar about All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, presenters covered the following:
- The current state of homelessness
- The public-input process for developing All In
- An overview of All In‘s strategies
- How USICH will implement All In
- How USICH will measure progress
- How communities and partners can use All In
View the recording below.
Early yesterday morning, staff from ACEH led outreach teams from partner agencies into the fog for the first day of the 2023 PIT Count.
Special presentation on the Eviction Diversion Program – Presented by Will Walker, Access to Justice Staff Attorney, Alaska Court System
Join ACEH, in collaboration with the Landlord Housing Partnership for an event focused on housing in Anchorage.