Covenant House breaks ground on new transitional housing for young adults in Anchorage

Under a bright blue sky with gulls squawking nearby, investors, senators and staff broke ground Tuesday on Covenant House Alaska’s newest medium-term housing construction site.

The Bridge to Success program is aimed at helping young adults ages 18-24 transition from shelter to apartment living, and the new three-story building will be located next to Covenant House Alaska’s Youth Engagement Center on A Street in downtown Anchorage.

The 10,000-square-foot building will comprise 22 apartment-style microunits, a lounge and staff offices. Construction will begin next week and should be completed by the end of 2022, said Josh Louwerse, Covenant House Alaska senior program officer.

Young adults living in the home will also have access to services and programs offered at the YEC.

The event began with a smudging ceremony by Covenant House Alaska youth engagement specialist Eddy Falcon Jr. as a prayer and blessing of the land.

Among those gathered was Bob Flint, Covenant House Alaska’s first chairman of the board of directors, who helped establish Alaska’s first Covenant House more than 30 years ago. From his seat in the crowd, he looked on in awe.

“We were the small guy in the system,” he said of their beginning in the state. “It’s come so far. I just wouldn’t believe it.”

Anchorage Mayor-elect Dave Bronson and U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan also attended Tuesday’s event, hosted by Covenant House Alaska and Cook Inlet Housing Authority.

“This is that next step of empowerment,” Murkowski said. “But that empowerment can only come when the love of the community, the acceptance and the support of the community, has come together.”

Covenant House Alaska alumnus Tobias Lazar gave the final remarks at the ceremony. Lazar spent the past couple of years living in Covenant House’s emergency shelter program and transitional living. Last month, he was hired as the manager of Covey Cafe, where he previously completed an internship.

“If it wasn’t for all of that, I would be a guy with a job and an apartment, not a lot of friends and nowhere near as much family as I have today,” he said.