Meeting Anchorage’s homeless ‘where they are’

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Men and women experiencing homelessness at Brother Francis Shelter in Anchorage are met with services to meet their unique needs and help them reach stability. Each person who walks through our doors leads a different life with different needs in finding self-sufficiency.

Brother Francis Shelter serves as the low barrier, emergency shelter option for people in our community experiencing homelessness. That means that if they need shelter, our doors are open to them, and we will give them a safe place to sleep, food to eat, and basic services like access to a shower and laundry — but they need so much more. The shelter has a number of programs that offer more in-depth services for specific needs.

Those ready to work enter the Good Day Good Night program to coordinate with our case managers and save their money. Good Day Good Night is designed to help clients be well rested and do a good job at work to help save their income as they move toward achieving permanent housing. Shelter guests who apply to Good Day Good Night commit to having a permanent job of at least 32 hours a week with a sustainable income. They are assigned a bed in the shelter’s dorm, which provides a little more privacy and quiet. Additionally, they are given a locker. If they work in the day, they have access to an assigned bed for the night. If they work at night, they have access to an assigned bed to sleep during the day.

They also meet regularly with a case manager for ongoing support to develop a plan toward finding a place to call home. That could include any number of achievable steps to attain those goals. The primary goal is saving income. In this housing program, we ask our clients to save 70 percent of their income, as Brother Francis Shelter covers their room and board.

When a guest has saved income for at least 60 days and is pursuing housing, we assist in locating a housing option that fits his or her needs and budget, and Brother Francis Shelter can assist with first month’s rent or initial deposit so he or she can use some savings to purchase household goods and furniture for the apartment or save for future rent.

At any given time, at least six to 10 men and women at Brother Francis Shelter are on the Good Day Good Night program. In the last six months, 26 guests have entered this program, and 10 are still in it. Among those who have completed the 60 days, 56 percent have moved on to stable housing.

This program serves a specific group of people with a specific need in keeping a job and saving money. In order to end homelessness, there needs to be different types of programs to meet people where they are and support them on the journey to long-term stability and independence.

From the outside you may not see the effectiveness of amazing programs like the Good Day Good Night, but our building serves the needs of so many different kinds of people at very different points in life. Our staff strives to provide help for everyone while focusing on the dignity and respect that every individual deserves.

The writer is executive director of Catholic Social Services in Alaska. For more on CSS, call 222-7300 or visit cssalaska.org.


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