The Juneau Assembly Human Resources Committee heard an update Monday night on Juneau’s need for a housing unit for homeless. Alaska Mental Health Board Planner Scott Ciambor says a Housing First project in Juneau was developing quickly before the Alaska Council on the Homeless changed a crucial grant.
“The status of this project is it went really fast really quick, and so once we hit that snag in May of the guiding light of the Special Needs Housing Grant paving the way, things have kind of tempered down a little. But when we were talking prior to that, the size was 45 units, with the idea that 30 would be straight off the street because we have more than enough capacity of folks needing that type of housing,” explains Ciambor.
Ciambor says the Special Needs Housing Grant was the pathway for Anchorage and Fairbanks to get housing for homeless. With none in Juneau, Ciambor says the chronic homeless often use the emergency room, department of corrections, and Rainforest Recovery Center for housing. The concept of a Housing First model addresses the need of getting homeless into housing without a prerequisite for sobriety.
“You take a person who needs housing and shelter. You get them out of the streets and into someplace where they can be safe first and then you surround them with the services so that they can make that next step,” Ciambor says.
Human Resources Committee Chairman Jesse Kiehl asked Ciambor to give the assembly an outline of project costs.