Municipality’s Cold Weather Plan for the Homeless Making Progress
Churches have provided shelter to dozens of needy people this winter
Contact: Jennifer Ruggles
The Municipality of Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services is proud to report that the Cold Weather Plan for the Homeless has shown initial success since being adopted by Mayor Dan Sullivan and the Anchorage Assembly last June. The plan allows churches and social services agencies to be designated as temporary cold weather homeless shelters for sober individuals and families when temperatures dip below freezing.
Under the plan, two churches (Anchorage City Church and ChangePoint) currently offer temporary shelter Thursday-Sunday nights, with The Salvation Army’s McKinnell House helping to cover Monday-Wednesday nights. As of March 15, 48 people have been sheltered through the efforts of more than 70 volunteers. Those served include a mom and her teenager; a young couple with a toddler; a pregnant mother with a one-month old infant; a family of seven (twice); and a pregnant woman who had been sleeping in her car.
Last winter, several family shelters were at or above capacity, some with wait lists. Allowing designated locations to act as temporary cold weather shelters is designed to help to ease the pressure on existing family shelter providers.
The churches involved welcome additional volunteers regardless of religious affiliation. The volunteer application process does include reference and criminal background checks.
“It’s gratifying to see the Cold Weather Plan working for our homeless families,” said Mayor Sullivan. “This is a dangerous time of year for the homeless because of the warmer daytime but still freezing nighttime temperatures. It’s important that our neighbors without permanent housing know this option is available.”
“We’re pleased to be able to take advantage of the offers of assistance we receive from community partners,” said Diane Ingle, Director of the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services. “We are fortunate to have organizations in the municipality that will take in homeless residents; it truly demonstrates our city’s sense of community.”
Applications to become an emergency shelter are available online on the Department of Health and Human Services website www.muni.org/health along with information on the Cold Weather Plan policies. For more information regarding the Cold Weather Plan, please call Darrel Hess, Homeless Coordinator at 343-4698.
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