HUD awards $4M to make homes in Juneau and Southeast safer

The headquarters of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development pictured here on Feb. 18, 2018, is located in Washington, D.C. (Creative Commons photo by F Delventhal)

A pair of organizations based in Juneau are getting $4 million in federal housing grants to make homes safer. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving $2 million each to the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority and to the nonprofit Alaska Heat Smart. 

They applied for their grants separately, but have complementary programs targeting a lot of the same households, so they’re working together. 

“We’re both looking at remediating lower income family homes and making them both healthier and safer to those folks who live in them,” said Andy Romanoff, executive director of Alaska Heat Smart. It’s the first time it’s received one of HUD’s Healthy Homes grants. 

Alaska Heat Smart serves households in Juneau and focuses on heating and energy efficiency improvements to make them greener and cheaper to keep warm. That also fits HUD’s goals with the grant. Warm, dry homes are safer and healthier than cold, humid ones, especially when it comes to respiratory illnesses. 

Jackie Kus.een Pata is the CEO of the housing authority, which has received Healthy Homes grants several times before. She said the housing authority’s Healthy Homes program covers lots of communities in Southeast Alaska, but is specifically for tribal citizens. It tends to cover more general repairs, like plumbing, addressing mold, fixing roofs and replacing floors. 

“We’ve heard from our participants time and time again that just the simple act of removing the carpet out of the home, what a difference it made to the number of colds that they’ve had, anybody who had asthma, their respiratory condition,” Pata said. “And they were surprised how much better they felt and they didn’t even realize how bad it was affecting them until that was taken out.” 

Pata and Romanoff are putting together a single application for their two programs. Eligible households must earn less than 80% of the area median income. They think they’ll be ready to start taking Healthy Homes applications in about two months.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

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