Juneau, AK (KINY) - The Bartlett Regional Hospital Board committed to a $250,000 donation to Phase Two of the Housing First project. The group is looking to apply for a grant that is due on October 5th but has to seek funding from various organizations to ensure that they meet the requirements.
A three-year study being done by the University of Alaska Fairbanks has already shown positive results of Housing First and during a presentation on seeking funding for the next step CEO Chuck Bill called the program a "Slam Dunk Winner" of a project. The money will be presented on the condition that Housing First secure the grant.
There was also a $15,000 check donated to the project at the meeting by the Juneau Emergency Medical Association.
Executive Director of the Glory Hall Mariya Lovishchuk had this reaction. “It is a step in the right direction," she said humbly, "We are just so grateful to the Bartlett Regional Hospital and to the Juneau Emergency Medical Association.”
Bruce Denton, the Vice Chair of Housing First Collaborative had this analogy.
“Phase One we described as a frog jumping across the pond from lily pad to lily pad. We just made one more jump. We do have a lot more lily pads to land on before we get to the other side, but it's a huge step and I'm pretty confident that we will get there.”
Lovishchuk tells us that she was blown away by the effectiveness of Phase One and the level of support from the community.
“Phase One has been beyond all of my expectations.”
“I have read a lot about and visited housing first projects around the country and I did not expect the results as great as this one. I think this just really shows that Juneau is an amazing community with lots of participating organizations like the hospital. We are just super grateful to all of the community partners and we are really looking forward to 32 more units.”
Denton could not praise the study being done by UAF enough.
"One of the things that were really exciting to me was to be able to work out an agreement with the University to do this study that they've done and are continuing to do (it’s actually a three-year study) my hat is off to the University for that. We are not paying a lot of money for it, it's mostly reimbursable.”
“The data that they are producing has been invaluable, not only in helping us develop Phase Two and pleading a case for Phase Two, but allowing the operations to adjust according to the things that they're discovering from that.”
Homeless or not, the community as a whole is benefiting from Housing First and that's not to mention the fact that the program is helping save lives.
“We as a community don't want people to die in the street in the winter. We don't want that.”
“We also don't want as a community to be wasting money on unnecessary emergency service utilization. We don't want to have people go to the ER over and over again when they don't have significant medical needs that warrant that. We just want to smart about our money and then we want to be humane and we want to save lives.”
Denton also agreed and says that the program has a lot of value for everyone in the community.
“It's a win-win. The argument from people that say, ‘Well why should we spend money taking care of people? Tell them to get a job.’ The argument is that we’re spending way more money the way we're doing it now and we're doing a terrible job for everybody, whether you're those individuals in need, a police officer, a fireman, an emergency room staff person, somebody that lives downtown, or a business person downtown. It doesn't work well for anybody and so it's really wonderful to see this thing working the way it is and to be able to document that it is working.”
The group will continue to seek support from other organizations. It was said that if they do receive all of the necessary funds, they have no doubt that they will be able to secure the grant.