Assembly committee to hear update on Housing First project for Juneau

Juneau Project Homeless Connect 2012. Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO.

Juneau Project Homeless Connect 2012. Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO.

The number of homeless people in Juneau is estimated at more than 550.  A  group organized to address some of the problems of homelessness will update the Assembly Monday evening on its progress.

Human Resources Committee chair Jesse Kiehl says the issues should stay on the Assembly’s radar, because the city spends a lot of public money addressing the needs of the homeless inebriate in the least efficient way.  A Housing First project may be an answer.

“Police departments and emergency rooms aren’t designed to address those problems.  So a project like this, if we could get it rolling,   would actually do something toward fixing some of the problems of some of the folks who have real chronic long-term public inebriation problems and homelessness.”

Housing First projects have been started across the U.S.  Kiehl says is many cases just meeting a person’s basic needs helps them transition into becoming more functioning members of a community.

“The basic theory of a Housing First project is that it really addresses a roof over your head first and foremost. So the folks who are brought into a Housing First project generally are folks with chronic alcoholism or drug abuse problems, who have been homeless for a long time,” Kiehl says. “The big difference with the Housing First project is it doesn’t require sobriety to live there.”

Similar housing is available in Anchorage and Fairbanks, where homelessness and public inebriation are also a major issue.

The CBJ Assembly Human Resources Committee meets at 6 p.m. Monday in Assembly chambers at city hall.

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