An array of services will be offered in Soldotna on Wednesday to those at risk or already experiencing homelessness, as part of a national initiative to bring assistance to communities across the country.
The annual Project Homeless Connect event will be held at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with free transportation provided by Alaska Cab. The first ride will pick up folks at either the Peninsula Job Center or the Soldotna Public Library starting at 8:45 a.m., with consecutive rides at a quarter to the hour throughout the day.
Jodi Stuart, the public relations chair for the project, said Monday that people can come by for anything from a COVID-19 vaccine or Alaska Housing Finance application to a haircut or a warm meal.
“It is a one-day event where we provide access to area services, meaning we bring all the services into one location to make it easier for folks that are having housing difficulties,” Stuart said. “So there’s a whole bunch of stuff that is provided during our one-day event.”
The demographic of people experiencing homelessness on the peninsula includes many people with disabilities, she said.
“It’s really shocking how many people with disabilities are homeless,” Stuart said.
She said many people in need of housing stability on the peninsula are people who are couch surfing or have conditions that preclude them from working.
“These are people that are just struggling to be able to make ends meet,” Stuart said.
The project is funded by community donations and various grants.
Stuart said data about the state’s average cost of living has given her a new perspective on homelessness.
“So many of us are really just one paycheck away from homelessness ourselves, and so I like to think that we should always be willing to give back so that way, if it ever becomes our turn, we know that there’s somebody out there to give us a hand.”
The event on Wednesday is in person, with COVID mitigation procedures in place. Stuart said everyone will need to get their temperature checked upon entry as part of symptom screening and wear a mask while inside the building.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of illness are asked not to come, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to claim services. Stuart said anyone who is sick can call Love INC at 907-262-5140 for a telephonic intake of whichever services they’d like.
For more information follow Project Homeless Connect on Facebook or call Love INC.
Homer and Seward are also hosing their own Project Homeless Connect events. Homer’s will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Homer United Methodist Church and the Anchor Point Food Pantry on Wednesday. Seward’s will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Seward Community Library and Museum on Thursday.
Reach reporter Camille Botello at email@example.com.
List of Services at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Wednesday:
Legal services through 49th State Law
Pregnancy testing, parenting and STD services through ABC Life Choices
Voucher program services through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
Health and wellness education through Change 4 the Kenai
Addiction treatment services through the Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Returning to work services through the Division of VOC Rehab
Recovery and sober living services through Freedom House
Lifeline phone services through GCI
Disability, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security services through the Independent Living Center
Education and GED services through Kenai Peninsula College
Food assistance and education services through the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank
Case management services through the Kenai Peninsula Re-Entry Coalition
Health services through Kenai Public Health
Social services through the Kenaitze Indian Tribe
Breast and cervical cancer screening and education through Ladies First
Homeless prevention and placement and daily needs assistance through Love, Inc.
Shelter services through the Nikiski Shelter of Hope
Medical, dental and behavioral health services through PCHS
Employment and training services through the Peninsula Job Center
Food stamp services through SNAP
Public assistance benefits through SOA Public Assistance
Student resources through the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and Students in Transition program
Domestic violence intervention and prevention through the LeeShore Center