ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage should provide about 3,000 new housing units and shelter beds to meet the growing needs of the city’s homeless residents, a new report said.
The level of aid needed by people experiencing homelessness is expected to rise in the coming months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt the city’s economy, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.
The report released Monday by the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness analyzed supply and demand, including the housing and support services necessary to get people off the streets, out of shelters and into suitable living arrangements.
In 2019, about 7,900 people in Anchorage sought some form of assistance because of homelessness, up from 7,763 from the prior year.
During a single night in January 2020, Anchorage’s official homeless population was 1,058, with 1,003 people in shelters and 55 living outside.
Anchorage needs 1,695 more rapid rehousing units and 700 units for permanent supportive housing, the report said.
Rapid rehousing assists with immediate needs and short-term financial assistance, while permanent supportive units offer indefinite rental assistance and supportive services for homeless residents with disabilities or families with disabled adults or children.
The report also said there is a need for emergency shelter of about 400 beds for single adults, at least 30 for families and at least 20 for youth and young adults.
Single, homeless adults comprise 63% of demand for housing services, and the elderly are of growing concern, the report said.
The report provides demographics including a statistic indicating Alaska Native residents make up nearly half of the city’s homeless population and more than 75% of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
Census data indicates Alaska Natives comprise just over 9% of Anchorage’s population.
Katie Scovic, chair of the coalition’s advisory council, said the report’s statistics were compiled with a tool from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and reveal an urgent need to bring a racial equity lens to fighting homelessness.