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 or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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

A Shell station in Anchorage. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)
Shell abandons North Slope oil leases, raising questions about the industry’s future in Alaska

Experts say some of the state’s hard-to-tap oil prospects are becoming less attractive.

Most Read