Forty people in Anchorage will soon be getting housing, thanks to a new partnership between the city and private housing companies.

The program, known as Path to Independence, was unveiled by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz Wednesday afternoon. 

Weidner Apartment Homes and Cook Inlet Housing Authority have partnered with Catholic Social Services for the project, which focuses on rapid rehousing.

The Path to Independence pilot project provides selected applicants:

- $6,500 per participant, which can be used towards rent payments or other needs

- Case management for one year

- Reduced rent for one year

While program organizers say there are many paths to homelessness, including medical and mental health issues, for some it can be as little as one stroke of bad luck.

"For many, it's one acute event that just pushed them over the edge," said Lisa Aquino, Chair of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness. "It's a lack of a safety net, and a lack of social connection -- and then when that bad thing happened, they didn't have anywhere to turn and they became homeless. For these individuals and families, rapid rehousing works."

Aquino cited one example in which the high cost of rent and the seasonal nature of work in Alaska kept one couple homeless, even with a job. 

"Both of them were working, but they were both working temporary jobs part-time," Aquino said. "Neither one had benefits or had ever had benefits, and they just couldn't make ends meet; they were living in their car."

Catholic Social Services was able to find the pair permanent housing, Aquino said.

Nearly 2,000 people in Anchorage are considered homeless, a number which has stayed fairly stable over the last six years with some minor fluctuations.

For the last three years, Berkowitz says his administration has been focused on identifying who is homeless and why. Now, a group of 22 organizations has come together to take action. 

"To me, this is a moment of pride about what Anchorage is as a community, but it is also a time for us to be hopeful that the steps we take today are steps that others will emulate," Berkowitz said. 

The program is still in the process of reviewing applications. It hopes to start housing participants by July of 2018.

Program partners range from oil companies to non-profits, who have fund raised more than $650,000. According to a communications specialist hired by the city, Katie Dougherty, the Municipality of Anchorage is chipping in about $25,000 for the project. 

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