The Housing First Project in September 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Housing First Project in September 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Housing First facility may more than double in size

Program board currently applying for grant that would expand homeless housing

The Housing First facility may be more than doubling its residents.

Bruce Denton, Vice Chair on the Housing First board, said Housing First — a 32-room supportive housing facility in Lemon Creek geared toward housing homeless alcoholics and inebriates — has submitted an application for grant funding that would cover the costs of construction and maintenance to expand the current housing by approximately 45 more rooms at the same location.

The grant, through Alaska Housing and Finance Corporation Greater Opportunities for Affordable Living funding, would accumulate to $2.8 million total, with $1.8 million going toward operating funds spread out over three years. If the funding is approved, this would be part of the phase two expansion at Housing First’s residential facility.

“This was in mind during phase one,” Denton said in an interview with the Empire at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge Thursday. “There were limitations on how much money we could get. So we built phase one. We already have the property ready for the second phase.”

Heidi Brocious gave an update to the chamber on Housing First, which is nearing its year anniversary in September. Brocious, professor of social work at University of Alaska Fairbanks, discussed data that was released June 25 about the program’s progress in its first six months. This data showed drastic decreases in the number of police and fire department calls, usage of the sleep-off center at Bartlett Regional Hospital and times going to the Bartlett Regional Hospital emergency room for tenants in the facility, compared to six months ago before they moved in.

The overall numbers, collected from the departments and given to a UAF investigative team stated that visits to the sleep-off center went from 344 visits during the six months before tenants moved into Housing First, to two visits in the six months afterward. Visits to the ER dropped from 360 to 126, contact with Juneau Police Department for any reason went down from 604 to 168 and transport by Capital City Fire/Rescue fell from 137 to 63.

Brocious added that this was the first of several studies that will be released through a three-year period, and the first of three this year. Brocious said her team is currently working on interviews conducted in April with various people in town that includes emergency services responders, the staff at Bartlett Regional Hospital and local business owners on whether they have witnessed any effects from Housing First. Brocious said they will begin transcribing those interviews next week and the study is expected to be released this fall. A one-year study, similar to the six-month study, will also be released this fall.

Denton said the data, funded by an $18,000 grant from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, supports expanding the facility because the early numbers concluded that it has helped clients and emergency service numbers.

Homelessness is still a major issue in Juneau. In May, City and Borough Chief Housing Officer Scott Ciambor gave the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly an overview of an increase in homelessness. Ciambor reported 235 people were accounted for in unshelter, emergency shelter or transitional housing. This number is an increase from 2016 (211) and 2017 (215).

Denton said there is no timeline on if or when the project would receive funding but did say applications are due by Oct. 5 for the Alaska Housing and Finance Corporation funding. If the funding is granted, work on phase two could begin next year.

“Best case scenario, construction would begin in spring of 2019 and be done by the end of the year,” Denton said.


• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at gphilson@juneauempire.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.


More in Home

Glory Hall Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk points out some of the features of the homeless shelter’s new location a few days before it opens in July of 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Mariya Lovishchuk stepping down after 15 years as executive director of the Glory Hall

Leader who oversaw big changes in Juneau’s homeless programs hopes to continue similar work.

Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people gather in Juneau for the opening of Celebration on June 5. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Federal judge considers lawsuit that could decide Alaska tribes’ ability to put land into trust

Arguments took place in early May, and Judge Sharon Gleason has taken the case under advisement.

KINY’s “prize patrol” vehicle is parked outside the Local First Media Group Inc.’s building on Wednesday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau radio station KINY is using AI to generate news stories — how well does it get the scoop?

As trust and economics of news industry continue long decline, use and concerns of AI are growing.

Workers stand next to the Father Brown’s Cross after they reinstalled it at an overlook site on Mount Roberts on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Hugo Miramontes)
Father Brown’s Cross is resurrected on Mount Roberts after winter collapse

Five workers put landmark back into place; possibility of new cross next year being discussed.

Construction on Egan Drive on Tuesday evening leaves one lane open in each direction. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Fred Meyer intersection gets turn-lane safety upgrades; traffic signal planned by 2026

Project seeking to reduce frequency and severity of crashes includes lower seasonal speed limits

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, speaks on the Senate floor on March 6. Gray-Jackson was the sponsor of a bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
On Juneteenth, Gov. Dunleavy weighs adding a new legal holiday for Alaska

If the governor signs recently passed bill, Juneteenth would be observed as a state holiday in 2025.

A view of Angoon from a floatplane on Friday. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Thayer Creek Hydro project fulfills ‘dream of the elders’

Angoon hydropower groundbreaking comes after four decades of effort, seeks to stabilize future costs

An empty classroom at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on July 20, 2022. (Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska faces consequences as federal education funding equity dispute continues

State officials offered feds a $300,000 compromise instead of $17 million adjustment.

Most Read