In November 2021, Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel was appointed Executive Director of the Anchorage Coalition to end Homelessness. She came to the position as eviction filings were growing across the country as the federal moratorium on evictions to curb the coronavirus came to an end.
The Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) brings together government, businesses, and service providers to eradicate homelessness. “We believe that all Alaskans deserve a roof over their heads, a place to call home,” Meg Zaletel tells Sol de Medianoche. “Homelessness affects everyone in our community, whether they are housed or not. Everyone deserves a clear and quick path to housing and the supports to help them maintain it. Our values are dignity, respect, equity, and compassion. Every homeless person has needs that can be met when the community works together. The solution to homelessness is housing and Alaska needs more of it.”
– The Sullivan Arena houses homeless people... The Sullivan Arena was set up as an emergency shelter, not permanent housing. Our concern is the people who are housed there and how we can support them to get them housed. The city of Anchorage is working on a plan to get them into housing that meets their needs.
– What can you do to address homelessness? The solution to homelessness is housing. Housing First is an intervention that allows people to be quickly re-housed and reduces the likelihood that they will lose their housing again. It is also effective for chronic homelessness. A person needs housing before other services. ACEH believes that the Mass Care Exit Strategy could have a huge impact on our community.
– Have you talked to mayor Bronson about homelessness? Mayor Bronson has shown interest in solving the problem and reducing homelessness in Anchorage. His office has been involved in the facilitation process and we support the plan he has proposed as it addresses many of our concerns. ACEH believes that decriminalization of homelessness is essential to ending homelessness. Incarceration and homelessness should not go hand in hand. Experiencing homelessness does not make anyone a criminal. The facilitation plan will invest in proven programs and services to rehouse people and keep them housed.
– Has poverty increased in Anchorage? Nationally, homelessness increased 15% last year. The economic impacts of Covid-19 have had a significant impact on many people in Anchorage. But there are more resources available now than before, and ACEH works to connect people to those resources in the most efficient way.
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