Juneau’s Housing First project just received the funding organizers had been praying for — nearly $3 million in capital funding and an additional $1.2 million in the form of an operating grant from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
Glory Hole Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk received an email dated May 28 informing her and two other entities of AHFC’s intent to award 2015 Special Needs Housing Grant funds.
Lovishchuk was understandably excited. Emails informing stakeholders and the Empire included a lot of exclamation points.
AHFC intends to award Juneau’s Housing First project $2,225,000 in SNHG capital funding and another $750,000 in HOME capital funding. In addition to the capital funding, there’s a three-year operating grant worth $1.2 million.
In late 2014, Lovishchuk said timing was of the essence, in large part because the SNHG funding was zeroed out in the FY16 budget submitted by Gov. Bill Walker.
She said at the time: “I kind of feel like this is our last window of opportunity to build.”
Along with the AHFC funding, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly pledged $1.5 million, and individual donations have been accepted by the Juneau Community Foundation for the project.
The Housing First working group is still waiting on more grant funding before construction can begin. Lovishchuk said they hope to find out in June.
If they meet the funding goal, construction on the project can begin this summer.
Lovishchuk said it is “really amazing getting this grant” and commented that it is “remarkable how many people came together to work on (it).”
The Housing First project, which provides housing for vulnerable, chronically homeless individuals without a requirement they quit drinking, will be the first of its kind in Juneau.
Anchorage and Fairbanks each have Housing First Projects.
A study of these programs by the University of Alaska Anchorage yielded positive results, with clients spending fewer night in shelters, accessing emergency services less and requiring police intervention less over the two-year study.
Lovishchuk anticipates a significant savings to the city.
On the human side, providing permanent, supportive housing tended to lead to harm reduction in clients, such as drinking alcohol less frequently.
Another piece of the puzzle in place is land, which Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority has committed to donate in Lemon Creek. The property is close to amenities and on the public transit line.