There are a number of root or base causes for homelessness and why the MOA has not solved this problem, now for over 20 years. First it is critical to understand that we have about 40 legal entities and 11 government agencies all involved in some way with ‘ending homelessness’ and they have been ‘trying’ for two decades. Look around you, not much success. One of the key discoveries here, in San Francisco, Seattle, LA, San Diego, etc is that there is NO economic incentive for any of these organizations to solve the problem. Their funding is directly connected to the problem continuing. We have a homeless industrial complex.
The other common denominator here is the growth of lawlessness due to the interference by politicos on law enforcement. We know this is the case in every one of these cities, including Anchorage. If a politico tells the police not to enforce these laws, why have them? The most obvious is the law on soliciting in the Municipal ROW. Camping on public land without a permit. etc.
In Anchorage we also have what I call cultural disabilities. No, this is NOT about race. It is about where people are born and how they are raised. If they were not raised in a western 9-5 work culture, no wonder they don’t know how to survive in Anchorage. The State has addressed this in the past, but then stopped. We must teach 11th and 12th grad kids in the remote areas of Alaska how to responsibly function in a western 9-5 work culture.
As for jobs, not more money. This is what we did in the development of the VetVillageAK proposal we were asked to do by the state legislature. We have signed commitments from local employers for 150 jobs. We only plan to have about 80 tenants. Ask for jobs, not a bigger bag of money.
“Who you like to go home?” This is the most cost effective way to quickly reduce the number of homeless on the streets and in the woods of Anchorage. If you ask, nicely, a homeless person on the street where they are from and why are they in Anchorage you often find that in Oct they took their PFD and came to the big city that they saw on TV. Now they are stuck. 90% of the time when ask if they would like to go home they say yes. The MOA should negotiate a package of one way tickets that are given at the airport with their name on it so it can’t be sold, and they leave. The MOA should also reach out the Alaska Native Corps and ask it they will help ‘their shareholders’ go home. This is the most cost effective way to seriously reduce homelessness in Anchorage.
We have soooo much more to say, but let’s talk about this ideas first.
Ric, to what degree do you think the PFD, as you brought up, is a factor in this problem? For many, it provides a quick rush of money that is often spent on things like a week at the Dimond Hotel or fancy dinners for a while. Then, the money is gone and hasn’t really contributed to solving the problem for many of these people. Should there be some sort of stipulation that PFD’s are used for some purpose, at least for those who don’t even have a bed to sleep in? Maybe not, just an idea and I am curious at hearing what you think.