An Inside Look at Life in Anchorage’s Housing First Project, Karluk Manor (KTVA.com exclusive)
Life is proven fragile for chronic inebriates, on and off the streets
Violence like that is what makes Karluk Manor so important, administrators said. A haven for its residents, background checks are run on all applications and violent and sexual offenders are prohibited from living there.
According to information posted on RurAL CAP’s website, the facility maintains a full staff of 24 employees. At least one of them is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, checking on residents and screening visitors.
But despite the constant monitoring, the screenings and the fences, police said the biggest danger to Manor residents doesn’t come from the outside. On January 1, less than a month after the housing project opened its doors to the first residents, 54-year-old John Kort was found dead in his room of apparent alcohol poisoning.
Melinda Freemon, the Manor’s director, declined to answer questions about Kort’s death, and would only release a written statement reading “In addition to his chronic alcoholism, he had multiple medical conditions and was in very fragile health.”
Police said they first received the call around 11:30 a.m that day. After Kort was found drunk and unable to stand in the Manor lobby earlier that morning, they said Manor staff had taken him to his room and put him in his bed.
Forty-five minutes later they returned to check on him, and police said the staff members found he had fallen out of bed and was passed out on the floor. They returned him to his bed and left.
When they came back to the room to check on Kort an hour later, he was dead.
Freemon said “all the procedures were followed” prior to Kort’s death, but would not reveal whether an attempt was made to get him medical attention after he was first found unconscious on the floor of his room.
Anchorage Fire Department officials said medics have responded to the Manor ten times since it was first opened December 8, and taken residents to local hospitals on six of those occasions.
While roughly 15,000 people are brought to the Anchorage Safety Center every year, where certified EMS technicians perform medical checks on every client, Freemon would not say whether the Manor employed its own medical staff, or what measures where taken in the event of a medical emergency like Kort’s. When a second man was found dead a month later, Freemon again declined comment.
Daniel Worthman, 46, was found in his room around 10:30 on the evening of January 31, and Karluk Manor staff would only say he died of natural causes.
But medical reports point to another cause: According to autopsy results, Kort died of acute combined intoxication, and while a final cause for Worthman’s death have yet to be released, preliminary reports point to complications from chronic alcoholism.
On average, nearly one person per month dies of alcohol related causes on Anchorage streets, police said, less than the current mortality rate at the municipality’s largest wet-housing facility.