Ending Youth Homelessness in Alaska: It’s About Relationships

In 2017, a community that cares about youth houselessness came together to create our Community Plan to End Youth Homelessness, and received funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP).

The Youth Task Force led a large group of providers in brainstorming and identifying four projects that would close the gaps we were losing young people to. These projects use effective key strategies informed by young people: affordable and flexible housing options and relentless engagement by caring adults. Three agencies in Anchorage are implementing these projects: VOA Alaska, Covenant House Alaska, and Choosing Our Roots.

VOA Alaska’s Youth Permanent Supportive Housing Program is a key part of the YHDP. Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) serves the most vulnerable youth who are experiencing houselessness in Anchorage. Targeting transition-aged youth (18-24), PSH pairs affordable housing with comprehensive support services to address houselessness, economic stability, and poor health outcomes. PSH is a proven and cost-effective solution for those identified as houseless and assessed as highest vulnerability in the community. Services are designed to build independent living, tenancy skills, and increase health outcomes.

By October 2020, the PSH team had housed 18 transitional-aged youth and their families, for a total of 29 individuals.

Since housing our first client in March 2019, VOA Alaska’s PSH team has made over 1,300 service contacts. The team works with each client to develop the skills necessary to: secure and maintain housing, access treatment for mental health and substance misuse, access primary care to address other health needs, engage in job training, and establish links to relevant community resources.

VOA Alaska has helped clients secure housing, attend mental health and substance abuse treatment, access primary care and address other health needs, access job training supports, link to community resources, and set goals. A major focus of care includes tenancy support skills, such as maintaining an apartment, being a good neighbor, and how to remain in stable housing. Another focus is teaching basic life skills, like grocery shopping within a set budget and preparing healthy meals.

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