Homeless resources find footing after governor’s vetoes

Published: Nov. 19, 2019 at 11:27 PM AKST
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When Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the budget vetoes, organizations providing services to homeless individuals in Anchorage were concerned that the cuts would decimate their programs.

Catholic Social Services said that they expected that they would have to reduce their capacity from 240 beds down to 100.

"Thankfully the municipality stepped up to the plate and funded us through this current year so we can continue operating at 240 beds,” said David Rittenberg, the Program Director at the Brother Francis Shelter.

According to Rittenberg, funding was restored for the Basic Homeless Assistance Program and Human Services Community Matching Grant.

“Most of the funding was restored,” said Lisa Sauder, the executive director of Bean’s Cafe. “But the concerns are for the future and what this means for the community.”

According to the 2019 Homeless Summer Community Count released by the Municipality of Anchorage, about 20 percent more people were counted in 2019 than in 2018.

In August 2018, 1,064 people were included in the count. In 2019, 1,272 people were counted.

The survey cited possible reasons for an increase included a lack of funding and the budget crisis.

According to the Anchorage Health Department, Bean’s Cafe recently opened up as an overnight availability. In November, 150 beds became available and 166 beds are available on nights colder than -10 degrees.

“We are funded for this fiscal year,” said Rittenberg. “But we're gearing up for what we anticipate is going to be a tough session.”

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