Providence Health and Services Alaska recently distributed close to $1 million this month to 10 Anchorage agencies working to more systematically move homeless individuals and families from the street into long-term housing.
Providence CEO Richard Mandsager made details of the grant public during an Anchorage Assembly committee meeting Wednesday.
While Providence donates regularly to community causes, this pool of money is unusual, Mandsager said. It's aimed at supporting the elements of what Mandsager described as a "small pilot project" for a new system to tackle homelessness in Anchorage.
The model for the system, which has been deployed in other U.S. cities along federal guidelines, involves naming and ranking Anchorage's most vulnerable homeless individuals and families, and connecting them with housing and the services to help them stay housed.
If the new system is a ladder out of homelessness, then Providence is helping support the rungs.
Those "rungs" include case management and data collection about homeless individuals and families; a phone number to call for those seeking services; support for a cold-weather shelter system coordinated by Anchorage churches; short-term emergency needs like meals and shelter; and a pool of money to help people pay security deposits or late rent.
A total of $975,000 has been distributed by Providence to 10 agencies: NeighborWorks Alaska, United Way of Anchorage, Salvation Army, Covenant House Alaska, Christian Health Associates, Bean's Cafe, Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Alaska Women's Aid In Crisis, Lutheran Social Services of Alaska and the Downtown Soup Kitchen.
"We don't see ourselves as a key player, we don't see ourselves as an expert, but we see ourselves as an important community member," Mandsager told Assembly members.
The money is being allocated along the lines of a proposal developed by United Way of Anchorage last fall amid broader community discussions about tackling homelessness, Mandsager said. Each agency is considered an "entry point" for individuals and families in the homelessness system, said Sue Brogan, the director of the Alaska 2-1-1 help-line program for United Way.
The Providence grant supplements efforts by the Municipality of Anchorage this year to create a list of the city's most vulnerable homeless adults and give them priority for services.