Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Pilot Program Houses 17 Chronically Homeless Alaskans
It's called the Rapid Housing Project. Based on the "Housing First" model, the approach believes people need a place to live before other issues can be addressed.
For many homeless people, the Brother Francis Shelter is a revolving door. But a new program is getting some of the most frequent visitors out of the shelter and into places of their own.
The program called “Rapid Housing” is based on a model called “Housing First.”
It’s an approach that says people can’t be successful in tackling their issues until they have secure housing.
In Anchorage, a state/city grant is funding that approach with several people from the Brother Francis Shelter-William Vandervoort, 46, is one of them.
Vandervoort lived on the streets of Anchorage and at the Brother Francis Shelter for the last eight years. Today he has an apartment in Government Hill.
For the next two years the program will pay almost all of Vandervoort’s expenses, rent, utilities, and even groceries. He says that help is giving him the time he needs to think about what he would like his future to be like.
“When I was on the street I didn’t think I had too many options, too many positive directions,” says Vandervoort. “But when you get into a situation like I’m in, you get a chance to be shaved and showered. When you get a chance to relax and focus on things, you can think.”
Vandervoort says he still struggles with alcohol but is starting to think he might be willing to get treatment. He has other health issues and for the first time is making an effort to see a doctor about them.
His caseworker from the Brother Francis Shelter plays an important role. He visits several times a week making sure that Vandervoort gets to his appointments and is mindful about the choices he is making.
At this point, Vandervoort isn’t sure exactly what his future will hold but says having a roof over his head is giving him the freedom to think about more than surviving life on the streets.