Four Juneau nonprofit organizations jointly received nearly a million dollars in grant money from the Alaska Housing Financial Corporation to combat homelessness amid the pandemic.
“It’s important that there’s the support of the community for these dollars to have the greatest impact for the community,” said Stacy Barnes, AHFC spokesperson, in a phone interview. “There are people who may be experiencing hardship for the very first time. We want to help those individuals to stay on track.”
The Glory Hall, Gastineau Human Services Corporation, Family Promise of Juneau, and the Alaska Housing Development submitted a joint application for grant funding to the AHFC in November, Barnes said. The $868,230 grant, part of the CARES Act emergency solutions grant for the coronavirus pandemic, is specifically meant to help prevent those affected by the pandemic from experiencing homelessness. Figuring out one’s options during this time can be confusing, Barnes said.
“They may have never received this kind of help before,” Barnes said. “Trying to navigate can be difficult for sure.”
The joint grant was spearheaded by GHS executive director Mike Pellerin, said Glory Hall executive director Mariya Lovishchuk in a phone interview. While there is a yearly grant that these organizations apply for, the CARES Act funding is new as the government tries to address fallout from the coronavirus. The AHFC received $5 million in federal funding to help cover all the regions of Alaska besides Anchorage, which received specific funding separately, Barnes said.
“Mike Pellerin wrote the grant. He put the grant together and got all the supporting materials,” Lovishchuk said in a phone interview. “We get this grant on an annual basis. Mike always manages the grant and puts it together. He’s been doing it for many, many years.”
Family Promise of Juneau joined the group applying jointly for the coronavirus, Barnes said. Juneau was one of seven areas that applied for grant funding. Each region was capped at $1 million, Barnes said. Barnes said they looked specifically for programs that had broad popular support and follow-through with clients. City and Borough of Juneau submitted a recommendation that the grants for these programs was approved, Barnes said.
“The money will help go towards helping with the increased staffing, rental of the extra space, and the appropriate PPE for staff as well as cleaning supplies,” Lovishchuk said. “All the things we need to operate during COVID for two different buildings.”
Across Alaska, Barnes said, the average loss of income felt by applicants who applied for help with rent or mortgages was about $22,000. “Because of COVID, we used to have one staff per shift. Now we have three staff per shift,” Lovishchuk said. “The other big concern is what will happen if we have to start making meals again instead of being able to rely on volunteers. There’s also all the additional cleaning that has to happen.”
The grant also doesn’t come with a requirement to be spent by the end of of December, Lovishchuk said, which allows recipients to hold some funds in reserve against possible future needs, such as hotel rooms if community spread takes off again.
“The big question in everyone’s mind is what is Congress going to do?” Barnes said. “There’s financial hardship across the state and across the nation as a result of this pandemic.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.