SUBSIDIZED HOUSING WITH TOXIC SIDE EFFECTS
Bristol Bay Housing Authority provides dozens of subsidized housing units in Dillingham and surrounding villages, such as Togiak, Naknek, King Salmon, and Manakotok.
According to KDLG radio, some 29 of those units have been found to be contaminated with methamphetamine residue and will require costly remediation.
There may be others, as well; the housing authority hasn’t finished its survey of the problem.
BBHA is a public housing agency that manages various types of housing programs from apartments to single family dwellings.
Rental income is based upon 30 percent of the tenants’ gross income. HUD provides the remaining rental payment up to the fair market value of the apartment.
Muklung Manor Apartments is a 16-unit apartment building, while Forest View Apartments has 24 units for rent in Dillingham. Manokotak Heights has 12 apartments in Manokotak.
Since its inception in 1974, BBHA has built more than 500 such units, including apartments, single-family lease-to-own, assisted living, and senior housing.
According to KDLG, the cost of remediating each apartment could run as high as $100,000. Meanwhile, those apartments are not habitable. BBHA has been busy getting workers certified to do the hazmat cleanup.
The Bristol Bay region has a growing meth problem, and while Congress has appropriated millions of dollars to address the opioid epidemic among Native Americans, meth isn’t receiving the same attention.
But Dillingham, with a population of 2,329, is a port of entry for drugs like meth entering villages in the entire Bristol Bay region. The drugs come in by boat and by air, sometimes through the U.S. Postal Service, but often in luggage. Law enforcement isn’t seeing meth labs in rural Alaska — it’s too expensive to operate those, when cheap, 100 percent pure meth is coming across the border from Mexican cartels.
On Nov. 19, a man was arrested at the Ted Stevens International Airport as he tried to board a Dillingham-bound flight with a suitcase full of meth. The Dillingham street value was $55,000.
When users smoke meth, the particles in the air settle on surfaces and are sucked into vents and ducts. These particles are hard to reach and get rid of. It’s not as simple as just replacing carpets and washing down surfaces.
Exposure to meth can cause myriad health problems, and is especially problematic for children whose neurological development or immune system can be damaged.
Where BBHA will find funds to clean up all the meth is a concern, since typically housing authorities don’t have huge reserves of cash.