How many homeless people live in Anchorage?

Latest point-in-time count records over 300 homeless people in Alaska’s largest city
How many homeless people live in Anchorage?
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:33 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU)- Coming up with a firm number on the number of homeless people in Anchorage depends on how and when the count is conducted. Although many individuals think of homeless people primarily as those they see living outside, some counts include a broader demographic.

The Alaska Homeless Management Information System’s estimate for the month of April — 3,198 — reflects a detailed count during the entire month of those who have been helped to find temporary housing, are living in emergency shelters or are living on the streets or camping in tents around town. If a social service agency or the municipality helps move a person into some form of temporary housing, that person is still counted as homeless while receiving housing assistance.

But there are other important numbers when you try to understand the homeless population.

Every city in the country that wants federal aid for housing and homeless support conducts what is called a point-in-time (PIT) count at the end of January every year. This year’s point-in-time count showed 335 individuals living outdoors.

That number is not considered a full, accurate count of the unsheltered, but the number is used when communities report the number of people living on their streets to the federal government. And it is useful when comparing year-to-year changes in the homeless population.

There are other estimates that up to 700 individuals might be living outdoors in Anchorage this summer.

That same January point-in-time count also showed more than 1,425 other individuals were living in temporary or emergency shelters on that one day.

Mayor Dave Bronson and the Anchorage Assembly continue to debate over where to focus money and energy when it comes to the homeless population.

“We simply have to come to an agreement on how we’re going to shelter these last 500 to 700 people,” Mayor Bronson said.

Assembly Chair Christopher Constant agrees on the need to move homeless people off the streets, and wants the municipality to focus efforts on long-term solutions for the larger population of homeless people not only living outdoors, but also those currently in more temporary housing.

“We need to be able to mitigate these camps that have cropped up all over town and we need to get to housing because housing is the answer,” Constant said.

And understanding exactly how many people need permanent housing is a constantly changing target.