The finished Housing First Project. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The finished Housing First Project. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Man dies at Housing First

Cause of death unknown, but not seen as suspicious, police say

A man died at Housing First on Monday afternoon, according to the Juneau Police Department.

Frank White, Jr., 56, was found deceased in his room at Housing First on Monday afternoon, JPD Lt. Krag Campbell said Tuesday. The cause of death is not known, Campbell said, but it does not appear to be suspicious.

Campbell said he wasn’t sure whether this was the first death at Housing First to which the department has responded.

Housing First is a supportive housing facility located in Lemon Creek that provides a place for Juneau’s most vulnerable residents to stay. It opened its doors this past fall, and according to a study done by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has cut down dramatically on police calls, fire department calls and hospital usage for the 32 tenants in the facility.

According to numbers provided by a UAF investigative team, Bartlett Regional Hospital’s Rainforest Recovery Center went from 344 visits during the six months before tenants moved into Housing First, to just two visits from those tenants in the six months afterward.

[New data shows Housing First program helping Juneau’s homeless]

Campbell said that although White was cited and released for concealment of merchandise last week, White served as an example of someone who seemed to benefit from Housing First’s services.

“Mr. White is someone that JPD has had several contacts with over the years,” Campbell said via email. “Since he went to live at Housing First, it’s my understanding that JPD’s contacts with him have diminished quite a bit.”

Mariya Lovishchuk, the executive director of the Glory Hole homeless shelter which helps staff Housing First, said in a statement that like any housing facility — especially one that houses the most vulnerable people in the community — it’s not unexpected that somebody could die on the premises.

“(The Juneau Housing First Collaborative) has in place comprehensive protocols to protect the health and safety of all individuals that includes routine room checks,” Lovishchuk said in the statement. “We also believe in dignity and privacy and in people’s right to not be a statistic.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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