The City of Nome aims to have apartments ready for those currently homeless within the next couple of years. They are pursuing funding that will provide upward of $675,000 for a complex of 15 studio apartments. The project director told Nome’s public safety commission that by filling the basic need for shelter, people can focus on dealing with what caused them to become homeless.
While acknowledging that this Housing First-type project isn’t a comprehensive solution for homelessness in Nome, City Manager Glenn Steckman expressed that it’s a step in the right direction. Housing First has been discussed in Nome since the 1990s.
“This is a piece of the puzzle that many feel — including myself — is a strategic way of addressing the homelessness issue. It’s part of a more comprehensive approach to dealing with it,” Steckman said.
University of Alaska professor Heidi Brocious studied similar projects elsewhere in Alaska. Her study showed that in Juneau, residents visited the emergency room about 60% less often after moving in and had about 70% fewer contacts with law enforcement.
“Think about the challenges that come with not having a place to sleep. You know, where do your resources go? Where does your energy go? How much stress that causes you? That’s not an ideal environment to get healthy — physically healthy, substance abuse healthy, emotionally healthy — and so take away the stress of not having a safe place to be at night, and you invite opportunities for people to work on and focus their energies on things that allow them to get healthier,” Brocious said.
The project includes a clinic to provide medical health services, counseling, and
case management. The wrap-around care is intended to make sure residents all receive the services they need to be successful.