The new Glory Hall, currently under construction near the airport, is due to open on July 1, 2021, as the contract for the shelter at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center ends after a year and a half of pandemic. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The new Glory Hall, currently under construction near the airport, is due to open on July 1, 2021, as the contract for the shelter at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center ends after a year and a half of pandemic. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Homelessness in Juneau up, amid national upward trend

It’s increased nationwide for four years.

Homelessness in Alaska was up more than 2% from 2019 to 2020, at the same rate as the rest of the country, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

But on a longer scale, looking at the earliest data available, from 2007, while the national rate of homelessness as a whole has gone down 10.3%, Alaska’s has gone up more than 18%.

Juneau’s point-in-time count, a snapshot of the last year, shows 244 Juneau residents experiencing homelessness, said CBJ’s housing head Scott Ciambor, in a phone interview. Nine agencies whose work touches on homelessness — AWARE, Bartlett Regional Hospital, Capital City Fire/Rescue, City and Borough of Juneau, Gastineau Human Services, Glory Hall, Housing First, St. Vincent de Paul and Zach Gordon Youth Center — report when someone uses their services to the Homeless Management Information System.

Each HMIS is managed by a Continuum of Care, a regional HUD program dedicated to ending homelessness by promoting efficiency of effort, minimizing trauma and dislocation, and promoting access to programs and housing for those experiencing homelessness.

[Without a vaccine mandate exemptions are untested]

Homelessness has increased nationwide for four years, according to the HUD report. This year marks the first time that more people experiencing homelessness were unsheltered than sheltered, as well. Nationally, African Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Americans were far overrepresented in the population experiencing homelessness, according to HUD data.

In Juneau, the portion of the homeless population identified as Black or African American was relatively small, at 3%, but the percentage of the homeless population identified as Alaska Native or American Indian was the largest single demographic group, at more than 38%. By contrast, the percentage of white people experiencing homelessness was slightly more than 32%. According to the U.S. Census, white people make up more than 68% of the population, while those identifying as Alaska Native or American Indian were only 12% of the population. Black or African American residents made up only 1.5% of Juneau’s population.

The pandemic impacted things considerably, Ciambor said, shaking up existing programs in 2020 as organizations adjusted to a new climate of mitigation and distancing.

“COVID made a lot of transitions in programming and added a whole lot of extra precautions to monitoring: testing and protocols and social distancing and vaccines, now,” Ciambor said. “As the vaccine started coming into the community, that’s a game changer for every part of the population.”

About 75 of the homeless population in Juneau have been vaccinated so far, Ciambor said.

“The community providers have done an unbelievable job to make improvements to the system despite the COVID.” Ciambor said. “There’s so much going on that it’s hard to highlight.”

The city and care providers have adapted to trends that have appeared during the pandemic, Ciambor said. For example, CCFR and JPD personnel noticed more people sleeping in cars, so they stepped up outreach on the street, coordinated through Jesse Perry, CBJ’s housing and homeless services coordinator.

As the weather warms, the city will reopen the Thane Campground soon, with a meeting on the reopening slated for next week, Ciambor said. The new Glory Hall is also on track to open on July 1, said executive director Mariya Lovishchuk in a phone interview. The date is set to coincide with the end of the shelter contract with SVDP, which expires on June 30.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

This photo shows the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer)
CDC freeze on Johnson and Johnson vaccine sets clinics scrambling

The odds of being affected are vanishingly rare, but CDC says better safe than sorry.

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state of Ohio that tried to get the U.S. Census Bureau to provide data used for drawing congressional and legislative districts ahead of its planned release. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)
Alaska joins 15 other states in backing Alabama’s challenge to Census privacy tool

The case could go directly to the Supreme Court if appealed.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

After over 30 years at 3100 Channel Drive, the Juneau Empire offices are on the move. (Ben Hohenstatt /Juneau Empire File)
The Juneau Empire is on the move

Advertising and editorial staff are moving to Jordan Creek Center.

This photo shows the National Archives in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle that has about a million boxes of generally unique, original source documents and public records. In an announcement made Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Biden administration has halted the sale of the federal archives building in Seattle, following months of opposition from people across the Pacific Northwest and a lawsuit by the Washington Attorney General's Office. Among the records at the center are tribal, military, land, court, tax and census documents. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
Biden halts sale of National Archives center in Seattle

Tribes and members of Congress pushed for the halt.

This photo shows Unangax̂ Gravesite at Funter Bay, the site where Aleut villagers forcibly relocated to the area during World War II are buried. A bill recently passed by the Alaska House of Representatives would make the area part of a neighboring state park. (Courtesy photo / Niko Sanguinetti, Juneau-Douglas City Museum) 
DO NOT REUSE THIS PHOTO WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM JUNEAU DOUGLAS CITY MUSEUM. -BEN HOHENSTATT
Bill to preserve Unangax̂ Gravesite passes House

Bill now heads to the state Senate.

The state announced this week that studded tires will be allowed for longer than usual. In Southeast Alaska, studded tires will be allowed until May 1 instead of April 15. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
State extends studded tire deadline

Prolonged wintry weather triggers the change.

COVID at a glance for Monday, April 12

The most recent state and local numbers.

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Sunday, April 11, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read