No one in Anchorage need sleep out in the cold.
Emergency Cold Weather Shelter for Individuals
For the first time this winter, no individuals have to sleep out in the cold.
When the weather started turning cold in September, shelter capacity was exceeded. At the highest point, there have been as many as 62 individuals with no place to go, sleeping in tent camps or other places outside in freezing temperatures.
United Way, the Municipality of Anchorage, Bean’s Café, Downtown Soup Kitchen, Catholic Social Services, and Covenant House have been pushing hard for the past few weeks to ensure that no individuals have to sleep out in the cold.
Through increased collaboration, better utilization of resources, and doggedly addressing every regulatory and operational barrier, additional beds are now available effective December 2nd – 50 at Bean’s Café and 20 at the Downtown Soup Kitchen to handle the overflow from traditional shelters in the area.
Cots and blankets are being provided by Covenant House and mats provided by Brother Francis Shelter. Individuals staying at Bean’s Café and the Downtown Soup Kitchen receive a morning meal and opportunities for workforce training.
In the spring, when cold weather support is no longer needed, the participating organizations will convene to create a more comprehensive Cold Weather Shelter plan in line with the Anchorage Plan to End Homelessness.
Emergency Cold Weather Shelter for Families
Winter Update, March 2017:
This winter we have eight churches opening their doors to house homeless families and they have been in use 83% of the time. So far this year, they have provided shelter to 55 families that included 82 children, with 30% of the families staying a week or more. Without this option, families would be out in the cold – literally. With subzero temperatures for many nights this year, they would have risked freezing to death.
United Way and our partners are focusing efforts on the Rapid Rehousing of families to get them into stable homes and help them get back on their feet and self-sufficient. Eight families have been housed and many more are working with case managers to get them out of shelter.
Our vision: No family with children sleeps in an unsafe place during the coldest months of the year.
In 2008, when we realized that there was not enough room at shelters for families with children, United Way of Anchorage reached out to the community to find a solution. Building additional shelter was not viable, nor expedient, and alternative solutions needed to be created.
The faith community generously stepped forward as they had the space and the congregation members willing to volunteer their time to provide safe and warm family sanctuary in the winter months. The municipality worked with the churches to ensure they were up to fire code for overnight stays. AWAIC and Alaska 2-1-1 provided support to callers looking for shelter, directing them to the churches. And an overflow solution was developed. Over the years, United Way has been working with partners to keep Anchorage families safe and warm, and connect them to resources quickly so that they no longer need emergency shelter. Will you help us create a community where our neighbors aren’t faced with sleeping in their car on a cold night?
Did you know:
- The devastating impact of homelessness on children may inhibit their physical, emotional, and cognitive development.
- The stress of homelessness on parents may contribute to unemployment, ineffective parenting, and poor health.
- 69 families used emergency cold weather shelter last winter (2015/2016). Those families included 91 children.
- While fewer families used emergency cold weather shelter last winter (2015/2016) than the winter before, the percentage of families staying more than one night increased by 11%.
This team of dedicated organizations works to keep Anchorage families safe and warm while connecting them to help by:
- Operating the emergency cold weather system
- Providing transportation to shelter
- Connecting families to community resources
AWAIC, Alaska 2-1-1, Anchorage City Church, Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, Anchorage School District – Child in Transition, Catholic Social Services, Central Lutheran Church, Changepoint Alaska, Christian Health Associates, Cornerstone Church, Covenant House, First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Love INC, Muldoon Community Assembly, Municipality of Anchorage, NeighborWorks Alaska, Providence Health & Services-In-Home Services, RurAL CAP, The Salvation Army, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church