American Rescue Plan Act grant goes to one nonprofit that discriminates against straight youth in Anchorage

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Housing discrimination is woven into in the fabric of the American Rescue Plan Act grants approved last year by the Anchorage Assembly.

During the administration unelected Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, noncompetitive federally sourced American Rescue Plan Act grants were awarded to several nonprofits by the Assembly and the mayor. The grants were supposed to respond to hardship conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of those grants was a $500,000 award to Choosing Our Roots, a new nonprofit based in Mountainview that helps homeless youth, ages 13-24, who are self-declared to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.

This particular nonprofit is a pet project of openly gay members of the Assembly, including former Mayor Quinn-Davidson, Assemblyman Chris Constant, and Assemblyman Felix Rivera.

With the $500,000 already in hand, Choosing Our Roots will purchase a residential building that will house up to 10 LGBTQ young people at a time. The building has not yet been purchased as of this writing, but the grant says it must be bought by December of 2022, and a copy of the deed must be provided to the Anchorage Health Department as proof that the organization fulfilled the grant requirement.

Choosing Our Roots is an organization that, in its mission statement, discriminates against straight youth, or may be reasonably seen as pressuring vulnerable, homeless youth in crisis into declaring themselves gay in order to receive services.

“The Choosing Our Roots (COR) Core Mission: To ensure that all queer Alaskan youth and young adults have access to safe homes, supportive communities, and opportunities to thrive,” the group’s grant application said.

COR is dedicated to housing “homeless and marginally housed Alaskan youth (ages 13-24) who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.” Non-queer youth need not apply.

The nonprofit organized in 2017 and became operational in 2019. That year it received $201,000 in grants. It gave out $40,000 in grants, had $90,000 in payroll, and had over $50,000 in other expenses, according to its IRS form 990 filing. The organization is run by like-minded LGBTQ people, some of whom identify as intersex, polygamous, Indigiqueer, genderfluid, and queer transman, among others.

COR uses a host home model — finding safe host homes for homeless LGBTQ youth. That model has been challenging with Covid, as host homes became more difficult to find, the group wrote in its grant application.

“As a result, COR maintains a substantial waitlist, and those young people are often waiting in congregate shelters, couch-surfing in crowded settings, and generally living with high risk for COVID-19 and other dangers,” the group said.

The answer was to buy a place to house youth ages 18-24 who are awaiting home placement. Each participant would have his or her own housing unit, and access to the group’s case management and support services.

“COR estimates the project will serve at least 10 unique individuals per calendar year for the duration of the grant term,” COR says.

The federal money for the grant came from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, also known as American Rescue Plan Act or ARPA funds, approved by the Anchorage Assembly in Assembly Resolution 2021-167. That resolution, passed in May of 2021, allocated more than $51 million of $100 million in Anchorage ARPA money, and it passed 7-3, with Eagle River Assemblywomen Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy, and Assemblyman John Weddleton voting no.

The Assembly was criticized at the time by those who said that it rushed through the grants before the new mayor, Dave Bronson, could take office and veto any of the expenditures.

The windfall of billions of dollars of federal pandemic aid created a climate of waste, fraud, and abuse, with little oversight as to how billions of dollars will be spent across the country. The parameters are broad, and local communities shape their own grant sideboards. The Municipality, under the unelected Mayor Quinn-Davidson, stated that “Part of the funding in this category was used to support the rapid rehousing of homeless youth transitioning out of shelters, and to provide temporary housing awaiting host home placement. Also used for providing housing, addiction treatment, vocational training for the homeless, and transitional housing for homeless young adults 16-24 years.”

But nearly a year later, the money didn’t provide for any immediate need or rapid rehousing of youth. It’s still in an account owned by Choosing Our Roots, waiting to be spent on a building.

Choosing Our Roots shares the same business address as The Business Boutique, a black-owned enterprise associated with Black Lives Matter that received a noncompetitive $2.5-million grant from the city to help residents in various ways through management of a gift card program.

According to the Department of the Treasury, recipients may use SLFRF funds to:

  • Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services up to the amount of revenue lost due to the pandemic.
  • Respond to the far-reaching public health and negative economic impacts of the pandemic, by supporting the health of communities, and helping households, small businesses, impacted industries, nonprofits, and the public sector recover from economic impacts.
  • Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical sectors.
  • Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, to support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand affordable access to broadband internet

“The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provide substantial flexibility for each jurisdiction to meet local needs within these four separate eligible use categories,” the Treasury Department says on it website.

How much flexibility? Organizations receiving federal money are not allowed to violate any federal law in the use of funds. But Choosing Our Roots’ very mission puts it in direct violation of the Fair Housing Act, which says it is illegal to discriminate in housing due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual harassment), familial status, and disability.

In the grant agreement with Choosing Our Roots, discrimination is specified as an unallowable activity:

“The Grantee shall not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status or who is a ‘qualified individual with a disability.'” And the grantee also has to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws that prohibit discrimination, the agreement says.

27 COMMENTS

  1. How do they discriminate against straight youth? That’s like saying the girl scouts discriminate against boys. They don’t. It’s an organization for a marginalized group. These are kids needing homes with a particular concern. Goodness, slow news day?

    • The folks on the left see discrimination in every and all action. And, I have yet to see you call that out as wrong.
      Voter ID = Discrimination
      Failing math = Discrimination
      Blue skies = Discrimination
      .
      But, that is OK by you? Not asking for much here, just equal treatment across the board.

    • The girl scouts are privately funded, but even at that, they allow boys…..if they wear a dress. This outfit is publicly funded, that is to say with MY money. So discrimination on ANY grounds is unacceptable. It’s also illegal, but that only matters if your in certain groups anymore.

  2. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. Fools are put in many high positions, … As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. This is the only sense one can make of this.

    • “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” – H.L. Mencken. Translation – no one cares about your religion. And it’s THEIR RIGHT not to care about your religion. It’s just your opinion.

    • Rich: I’m an atheist and throughout my life I’ve given more than I’ve taken. I’m not corrupt like, say, Rudy Giuliani. I’m not vile like the despicable thief Trump. Christianity does not guarantee virtue, far from it.

  3. I’m really starting to get concerned about my thought process. On one hand fundamentally, I do not believe that anyone on this planet is useless. However I’m starting to think that the Globalists might be right about their stated objective of eliminating all the useless eaters on this planet. As a parent of 2 openly gay children I do not fault them for their lifestyle and have no problem with the culture at all. But there are subversives in government that will use every tax payer dollar they are paid to discriminate against others that are not of their persuasion. That’s why we have a Constitution and Laws to protect the “equality” of every individual. This “Equity” BS going around has to stop. Kids all over the world, gay, straight, confused or otherwise have problems. Why discriminate people? Discrimination is the thing you hate, and yet you do it yourselves.

    “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things”

    Why does our tax money pay for this?

  4. This was an illegal transfer of funds that did not go for the intended purpose. If this organization is a 501C they should lose their status and pay taxes on their earnings including this grant.

  5. We are in the most modern of times. Yet are false idols today are made of televisions that lead the meek. Our corruption by our oath breakers gets covered up for the people of the people never to see. If we can’t police ourselves and our oath takers become oath breakers. Then Jesus did not die for us because we don’t deserve Jesus. OATH INTEGRITY or walk oath takers off.

  6. The majority of the Anchorage Assembly members are radical progressive idiots.
    Please everyone vote those turds out!

  7. Thanks Suzanne for writing this article and getting this activity back into the conversation….this assembly has ‘dumped’ so much pure evil on the citizens of Anchorage so often that we have become numb to much of it and we need to realize the depth their actions….In April we have the chance to bring some change about and maybe turn back to a more normal way of life for our once great city…..

  8. You know! Choosing our roots should be 100% private donation based. Then it can serve its specific crowd. You know what i unerstand the point of tithing for the church to our cause ‘sharing the gospel’ through various missions including faith based non profits and political matters, so we don’t live our lives as a glutten controlled by the things of our world. Well! Democrats and homosexuals are no less guilty living as a glutton buying stuff and vacations they and their children don’t need rather than giving more to their causes, so the cause isn’t taking government money.

    • You know those christian born agian men and women that struggled in a homosexual lifestyle, they ought to commit their life to a bible study group and potluck fellowship weekly group where such youth may also have the alternative when they begin realizing they been led to believe a lie that they would find fulfillment as a homosexual. The youth start looking for another community who knows how they feel and can relate cause they lived through the isolation.

  9. Just support the mindset of destroying Christian values. Promoting same-sex relation transgender. It is not legal or illegal is all about the new world order

  10. The Assembly outright ignored the horrific damage their Emergency Ordinance and mandates caused to families and businesses across Anchorage. instead, the gave COVID relief funds to their pet projects, promoting racial “equity”, gay/trans causes, etc.. The argument that any of these expenditures is COVID related is weak at best. (Vaccine outreach to minorities? Seriously??? Is there a single human being alive that does not know about the COVID vaccines? The people on North Sentinel Island are tired of hearing about them.)
    .
    When the COVID funding showed up, the Assembly saw a slush fund, and acted accordingly.
    .
    Unless you think this is a good use of emergency funding, I say vote against every single assembly member who voted for this.

  11. How can an “acting” mayor approve anything like this in the first place?? She is no longer mayor, so this needs to be squashed. If queers need a special place to stay let them find it on their own like the rest of the youth. I’m sick of these people that rely on the left to constantly help them get what no one else has. Hey you are so good at being different??? Then SURVIVE ON YOUR OWN!!That is living… Anchorage is a cesspool I’m glad I never visit unless it’s thru it on a plane.

  12. This is important information about our money and our government yet absent MustReadAlaska we would not know about it. And in the instance of Public Media such as Alaska Public Radio taxpayers pay for the media to keep us in the dark about outrages of this very sort.

  13. Some “Non-Profit”, the $140K ($90K salaries + $50K in “other expenses) spent on salaries and expenses is 3+ times the amount given in “so-called” grants. Sounds like a prime candidate for an IRS audit… but I’m not holding my breath…

  14. Venting Latent political frustrations about a project to house ten, I repeat ten individuals is emotional fraud. If a sample size of ten individuals can be wrought as indicative of some larger agenda at odds with everything you believe, shame on you. To go a step further and claim your religious rights have been violated is an abomination. House the ten transsexuals together so they can feels safe from biased people and speak not one more frivolous word about it.

    • Jason, spending half a million dollars on 10 individuals seems out of proportion and your comment is missing the bigger picture. These funds are taxpayer money and were designated to help alleviate the impact of Covid. Instead of rental assistance to landlords, tax breaks and assistance for businesses that were closed by mandates, support to individuals, who lost their livelihood, the assembly used the funds for their pet projects…..and because we were under emergency status they got away with it.
      Public grants to charitable organizations should be prohibited, as it invites conflicts of interest. ( i.e. Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel, who is the executive director of “Anchorage Coalition to end homelessness”).

      Non-profits should be required to solicit funds from the general public only. Concerning this particular organization, since this non-profit has not done anything with the funds in question, the claim of an “emergency need” can not be supported. This leads to the conclusion that these funds are simply viewed as a general contribution by the city and disregards the federal strings attached.

Comments are closed.