Proponents of Juneau Housing First nearing finish line for ‘Phase Two’ funding

The Juneau Housing First building on Sept. 19, 2017, right before the facility opened. (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)

A group committed to helping Juneau’s most vulnerable residents is much closer to doubling the size of its subsidized housing complex in Lemon Creek.

The Juneau Housing First Collaborative announced this week that it has been awarded more than $2.5 million in grants and loans for the project that will add a new wing to the existing building.

The first phase of the project opened to 32 permanent residents in 2017.

Mariya Lovishchuk is the director of the Glory Hall homeless shelter and the coordinator for the project. She said they hope the expansion will be ready by next year.

“We’re really hoping to start the work, be all permitted and ready to go in April, and I think that’s realistic,” Lovishchuk said Monday.

In September, the Juneau Assembly approved $1.8 million for the expansion. A number of other local and state organizations have also committed money.

The collaborative will turn to state and federal funding to raise another $1.1 million, and the Juneau Community Foundation will lead local efforts to raise $650,000 from the community.

Lovischuk said they originally hoped to build 56 apartments in the complex, but they decided to split the project into two phases when there wasn’t enough money to begin with.

“Phase Two gets us closer to where we originally wanted to be with slightly more units, because it seemed to be possible,” Lovishchuk said.

The Housing First complex provides a number of services to residents and a clinic that is open to the community.

According to the collaborative’s press release, University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers found that in the first six months after the clinic’s opening, emergency room visits and emergency services fell by 65 percent for residents.

Last week, Juneau conducted its annual point-in-time count of sheltered and unsheltered people.

Those numbers won’t be available until later in the year, but last year’s count recorded 235 people homeless in Juneau.

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