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Specialist could soon be hired for outreach to chronic inebriates

Posted: January 20, 2012 - 1:10am

An outreach specialist could soon be hired, in a coordinated effort to find a humane solution to a sector of Juneau’s population that is referred to as the “homeless chronically inebriated.”

The Juneau Homeless Coalition met on Thursday to hear an update on the plan as well as a project to index that sector of people.

Mariya Lovishchuk, director of the food shelf and shelter The Glory Hole, said that various people have applied and they are “very close” to having the money needed for the temporary position. The funding is expected to come from the Alaska Mental Health Trust.

She said they anticipate hiring Feb. 1.

Lovishchuk said it will be nice to have the outreach position so those who cannot use Glory Hole’s services due to inebriation can still get assistance.

“It’s a very good human component,” she said.

That person will help coordinate the “Vulnerability Index.” Creating the index will be done by sending out volunteers several times in places where homeless chronic inebriates tend to gather. They will be asked to take a survey. This survey will include information about who they are, what their medical situation may be, where they’re commonly found and other relevant information. They will then be indexed based upon a vulnerability level — essentially who’s at the most risk for dying out on the streets. The survey is expected to begin the first week of April, with results by the end of that month.

This will give the coalition direction to make sure those who need services the most are getting them — and perhaps eventually housing.

The index is part of the “100,000 Homes” organization and the board unanimously approved signing up for the membership, which will cost them $500.

Scott Ciambor, Health and Social Services planner for the Alaska Mental Health Board & Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, said the organization prefers to enroll communities, not necessarily a commission like JHC. Ciambor was recently the affordable housing coordinator with Juneau Economic Development Council.

“The Vulnerability Index is copyrighted,” Ciambor said. “We get their expertise and assistance as we go through this process.”

Lovishchuk said they also have a “very nice” database to assist with JHC’s project.

Mandy Cole, AWARE direct services manager, asked if the Coalition was capable of speaking for the community of Juneau.

100,000 Homes does have other similar coalitions representing cities.

Assemblywoman Ruth Danner, who sat in on the meeting, said that because the coalition is not an advisory board or committee to the Assembly that their decision would be fine.

In related business, the State of Alaska Museum will host a brown bag lunch series on the topic throughout March and take place at noon.

The schedule currently is:

• March 2 – Nancy Burke, program officer for the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority: “Housing First: A new approach to old lessons for housing the chronically homeless.”

• March 7 — Dan Austin, general manager, St. Vincent de Paul: “The Silver Tsunami: the approaching demographic bomb of low-income seniors and homelessness.”

• March 14 — Haifa Sadighi, Juneau School District student supplemental services coordinator: “Student Homelessness in the Juneau School District.”

• March 21 — Mandy O’Neal Cole: AWARE Direct Services Manager: “Homelessness and Domestic Violence.”

• March 28 —  Scott Ciambor: HSS planner for the Alaska Mental Health Board/Advisory Board on Drug and Alcohol Abuse: “Alaska’s Inadequate Housing Stock: gaps that impact the homeless, low-income, and middle class.”

Danner also stated that the Assembly Human Resources Committee, which she is chairwoman of, will also have a 30-40 minute discussion on the homeless chronic inebriation issue at 6 p.m. Feb. 8 in Assembly Chambers. She said four people have been invited to speak, including one from the Trust, a local physician and a member of the coalition.

For more information on 100,000 Homes see: http://100khomes.org.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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