City needs more funding to house the homeless
Anchorage's homeless coordinator, Nancy Burke, says the city is running out of funds to help house the homeless.
"We've done a very good job of making the best use of resources in the community in the past couple of years and now we are at a point where we need more resources," said Burke.
Burke said in the last three years the Berkowitz administration has housed more than 300 homeless people who were deemed to have the highest needs. About a year ago, the city received 80 housing vouchers for rental assistance that were mostly paid for with federal funds. Burke said the vouchers are currently unavailable.
"Because we had some new vouchers available we were able to get people to housing," said Burke. "And now we have the situation where there's not much movement on those vouchers and so we have people who stay in the system longer. I think that's where the pressure from the community comes from because those people are then in camps and on the trails and more noticeable then they've been in prior years."
The move to get people to housing may be slowing down, but there is still a push to bring them services as well as getting people on a list for when assistance becomes available. Burke said in the future, Anchorage may need to consider other ways to pay for housing the homeless.
"We really understand the community's concern and frustration when we can't house everyone but working on the solution is the way we need to go forward as a community."
Burke pointed to a recent example where Weidner Properties joined with non-profits and others in the community to form a new program to provide housing for up to 40 people. Burke said it's a good example of what could work in the future.
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