Housing is top concern

United-Way-commissioned survey says worry about housing burdens all

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2005

Affordable housing worries residents from all walks of life, according to a study recently released by the United Way of Southeast Alaska.

This year, United Way of Southeast Alaska hired the McDowell Group to implement Compass II, a community research model developed by United Way of America.

United Way and the McDowell Group conducted eight discussions with people from all segments of the community. The groups included guests from the Glory Hole homeless shelter, students from the alternative high school, business professionals, Native leaders, seniors, and faith-based service organizations, the McDowell Group's Scott Miller said.

The two organizations also conducted a telephone interview of 301 Juneau households.

United Way's three town-hall meetings

• Date: 5:15 p.m. Today.

Location: Perseverance Theater

• Date: Tuesday

Location: a radio call-in meeting on KTOO-FM

• Date: 5:15 p.m. Thursday.

Location: University of Alaska Southeast's Lake Room

Researchers concluded from the phone interview and group discussions that affordable housing is the biggest problem facing the community. Seventy-two of the households in the telephone survey identified it as a major issue in Juneau.

"I was surprised that people from every walk of life - including seniors, bankers, executives, project managers for nonprofits - were all concerned about housing prices in Juneau," said John Williams, chairman of a steering committee that reviewed the findings.

United Way of Southeast Alaska will hold its first town hall meeting Monday at Perseverance Theater to share the survey results and getting feedback from residents.

The report said 70 percent of households consider alcohol abuse a major challenge in the community while 55 percent consider drug abuse a big problem.

Many residents also worry about crowded classrooms, affordable childcare, a lack of recreational activities and after school programs, and teen pregnancy. Many residents expressed a desire to improve cross-cultural understanding, the report said.

Jodi Kilcup, executive director of United Way of Southeast Alaska, said after the United Way compiles all the findings and resident feedback, its board of directors will determine whether to confront all issues at once or focus on one or two problems. The nonprofit will then involve the whole community in the problem-solving process, she said.

"Sometimes Juneau is divided over issues," Kilcup said. "This is an opportunity to work together to serve the common good."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.

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