Path to Independence program a success after first year

Published: Oct. 3, 2019 at 5:50 PM AKDT
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60 individuals in 38 households - that's 60 fewer people on the streets of Anchorage thanks to the Path to Independence program by Catholic Social Services. Friday will be the one year anniversary of the program housing its first client.

The Path to Independence program is a partnership between private landlords and Catholic Social Services that helps homeless individuals find permanent housing, jobs and stability.

Sonya Glancy is one of the 60 people who now have a place of their own to call home thanks to the program. Six months ago, she was in a much different place.

"I was sleeping in vehicles and in fear all the time," said Glancy. "I took the steps as far as trying to get a job and trying to support myself, and I still was having a hard time. I wasn't making enough money to survive, or to get my own place."

She connected with Catholic Social Services, and found the Path to Independence. It's a program that gave her the tools and the push she needed to get back on her feet, and a place to call home.

"I have grandkids, and I have children, and it's impacted them in a positive way," said Glancy. "Me being safe, and being in a home that they can come home to and feel comfortable at."

Case managers are calling the first year a success with many of the participants in the program in the process of re-signing their leases, but there was a bit of a learning curve, according to chief program officer, Robin Dempsey.

"I think that whenever you're working with folks who are experiencing homelessness, there's a lot of trauma involved," said Dempsey, "So we need a really solid relationship between the case manager and the participants and that's something that we really focus on, because I think inevitably there's a healing that really comes in those relationships."

CSS caseworkers and their clients work together to make sure those in need not only have a place to call home, but the stability to keep the momentum going.

"My case manager, Jessie (Talivaa), he has worked so closely with me in giving me the strength that I needed, and the courage to make me realize that I could do it," said Glancy. "They really have just took me from being broken six months ago to who I am right now."

"Sonya is a big prime example right there, she's been doing really good," said case manager, Jessie Talivaa. "She's working, and this morning when I met with her, I even told her I said it's almost like a totally different Sonya, you know? A happier Sonya."

Most of the program's funding comes from local businesses and organizations, including Weidner Homes and Cook Inlet Housing Authority, which not only provide housing, but also invest in the project as well.

Program leaders say they're still going into the next year with the same goal of 40 households, but, hope to have the opportunity to increase that number in the future.

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