How an Anchorage Army veteran ended up homeless
A new partnership between the Municipality of Anchorage and private organizations is focused on getting forty of Anchorage's homeless into permanent housing this summer -- part of a rapid rehousing approach called Path to Independence.
While the program hasn't started sifting through candidates yet, it hopes to produce success stories like David Dumpson's -- a 24-year-old Army veteran who, up until a month ago, was homeless.
"My father's a veteran as well, I have three brothers, two brothers that are in the military, right now, one of them just got out two days ago," Dumpson said. "It's like a family tradition."
Dumpson, a former East High graduate, thought that family tradition would set him up to take care of his own family someday. But things didn't go according to plan.
"I got out a year earlier than I was supposed to because the military was downsizing drastically," Dumpson explained in an interview at his Mountain View apartment, where he and his fiancee Hannah are raising two sons.
Dumpson was part of the Army's cut, and it cost him money he'd been counting on for a degree. Even with Hannah working, their lives took a dramatic turn. Their second son was born in a homeless shelter in January.
"I try to just look at it in a positive light, like it could have been worse than it was," Dumpson said.
The couple had moved back to Anchorage that same month, to be closer to family, and take advantage of medical benefits through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. But getting back on their feet financially has been hard.
"There's like a lot of good openings up here, but there's a lot of qualified workers up here as well," Dumpson said of his job search.
Catholic Social Services (CSS), a non-profit, got the family into a low-income apartment last month, and helped Hannah find work.
It's part of a rapid rehousing program --designed to help people who are just a few steps away from being self-sufficient.
"It's definitely not an uncommon story," Robin Dempsey, director of CSS's Homeless Family Services, said of Dumpson's case.
"So you have maybe one parent who's working, they just are not making enough money to support that entire family," Dempsey said. "It could just be something that happens over time, so slowly, their resources are just dwindling until they find themselves in that situation."
It's a situation Dumpson never imagined he'd be in.
"It really can happen to anybody, it could happen to the most qualified candidate to be successful in life, have a great job, or be in school," Dumpson said.
Now, Dumpson says he's just grateful to have found some help. He says he's currently looking for work at a warehouse, in security, or on the North Slope, but hasn't found a good fit yet.
Through the Path to Indepence program, a group of 22 organizations, including Catholic Social Services, hope to help families like Dumpson's by providing selected participants with $6,500, which they can use towards rent or other needs, as well as a year of case management and reduced rent.
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