Pilot program aims at getting the most visible homeless population off the streets

Published: Oct. 31, 2019 at 3:03 PM AKDT
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On average it costs the community about $47,000 per homeless person to provide services on an emergency basis. That's according to a study by the United Way of Anchorage in support of a collaboration to get the most visible homeless population off the streets of Anchorage.

"That includes the jails, emergency rooms, fire department, police department, etc.," said Project Director Eric Glatt. "By taking that same amount of money and applying it to provide a stable housing and support environment, we can achieve far better outcomes, not only for the person who is receiving the intervention, but far better outcomes for the community at large."

The program, called 'Home for Good' aims to break the cycle and permanently move people from the street to stable housing.

Home for Good targets the most visible, or the 'chronically homeless' population -- meaning those who show patterns of homelessness, incarceration and high use of emergency services.

The pilot program uses no public money. The Rasmuson Foundation and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority have provided $1.1 million to cover the pilot.

"If we can show that we've reduced incarceration, we've reduced emergency room visits, we've reduced shelter stays-- if we can achieve those goals, then the entities like the Municipality of Anchorage, the State of Alaska, whoever we might line up as outcome payers, only then do they pay," said Glatt, "When we've actually shown we've succeeded."

Glatt says the idea is to get people into a housing unit first, and then begin working with them using intensive case management to start addressing their needs, rather than vice versa.

"Nationwide studies have shown that that intervention, people will struggle," said Glatt. "It's very hard to address your needs if you don't have housing. Whereas if we can get people into housing and then provide those robust services, that's the combination that helps people stabilize."

As of Oct. 9, 13 people are already housed and receiving intensive case management services. Home for Good plans to achieve the full goal of 150 people housed in the next three years.

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