Homeless numbers go down; still more work to do

Published: Jul. 17, 2017 at 3:56 PM AKDT
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The Anchorage Homeless Coordinator told a group of business leaders Monday that homeless numbers are improving, but there is still a long way to go.

Nancy Burke spoke to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce's Make it Monday Forum, along with Lisa Aquino of Catholic Social Services and Michelle Brown of United Way.

Each woman gave a presentation talking about some of the success stories and challenges of working with the homeless.

Burke said over the past two years, numbers are starting to go in the right direction.

"We really have made progress," says Burke.

She pointed out that over a one year period, the number of single homeless people went down from 902 to 840 people. And over two years, the number of single homeless families fell from 371 to 280 people. Burke called that result 'tremendous."

She also said that the municipality is not aware of any families that had to sleep in their car, over a winter. Michelle Brown of the United Way attributed that partially to help from the faith community.

Now, from May to October, shelters are full; however, churches are opening up, in order to provide shelter to families.

"We now have a place for families to go, when the shelters are full from October to May," says Brown. "So no one has to spend a night in a car."

The municipality has also looked to other cities to replicate what they are doing for the homeless. And there is now a social services coordinator working at the Anchorage Police Department to be on the front-lines and speak with people on the streets, about their options for non-profits or social service resources.