Proposed budget would eliminate housing, homeless services across Alaska
Advocates for the homeless in Anchorage say Gov. Mike Dunleavy's proposed budget would eliminate housing and homeless service programs across the state.
The proposed budget recommends cutting more than $10.5 million from four key housing and homeless programs, reducing funding from a little less than $12 million to $1.1 million.
The Homeless Assistance Program would be cut from $7.8 million to $950,000. The program helps Alaskans with homeless prevention resources and emergency shelter options.
The Special Needs Housing Grant would be cut from $1.7 million to $200,000. It provides long-term rental assistance for 17 housing programs across Alaska.
The Human Services Community Matching Grant and Community Initiative Matching Grant Program would both be cut, eliminating just over $2 million. Both of the programs provide funding to prevent and alleviate challenges for those with serious mental and physical hardships.
The wide-reaching cuts could affect services like Covenant House and Catholic Social Services in Anchorage.
"Whether you are driven by concern for these community members or for concerns for the things that are right in front of you, it's important to recognize that all of us will be impacted by these cuts," said Jasmine Khan, with the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness. "We will see a rise in homelessness, we will see a rise in unsheltered homelessness in our urban areas in the state."
Another program that could be impacted is Abused Women's Aid in Crisis, known as AWAIC.
Last year, AWAIC served more than 650 women and children.
Suzi Pearson, the organization's executive director, said the cuts would have a negative impact at the shelter.
"We would have to be considering looking at reducing our capacity and that could have a very negative affect on Anchorage because currently AWAIC is running at or over capacity, at this year about 37 percent," said Pearson.
Anchorage, Mat-Su and Juneau communities stand to lose the most funding if the cuts go through.
The Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness reported that nearly 11,000 Alaskans accessed emergency shelter, prevention services, supportive services and housing vouchers funded by the four grant programs in 2018.
KTVA reached out to the governor's office Thursday for comment, but had not heard back at the time of publication.
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