Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveils the People First Initiative, a sweeping effort to target domestic violence and sexual assault, missing and murdered Indigenous persons, human sex trafficking, foster care and homelessness, in a Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 news conference in Anchorage. The plan is a part of Dunleavy’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveils the People First Initiative, a sweeping effort to target domestic violence and sexual assault, missing and murdered Indigenous persons, human sex trafficking, foster care and homelessness, in a Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 news conference in Anchorage. The plan is a part of Dunleavy’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)

Alaska Voices: Governor puts people first with budget proposal

The People First Initiative is transformational in thinking and approach

By Brian Wilson

The Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (AKCH2) and the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) commend the governor for his leadership reflected in the FY 2023 budget proposal and the People First Initiative. The People First Initiative is the foundation upon which we can prevent and respond to homelessness and ensure our fellow Alaskans are not left out in the cold.

The People First Initiative is transformational in thinking and approach. Rather than just increasing funding, the People First Initiative includes housing the Alaska Council on the Homeless in the Governor’s Office. Where additional funding is proposed, it is proposed in a way that will change our ability to address homelessness: with data. The proposal includes funding for a more interconnected data system and data coordinator, which will ensure Alaskans falling into homelessness have access to all available resources. Increased coordination between the state and Alaska’s homeless response system is necessary in order to achieve our goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and one time.

We recognize this issue generates strong feelings and opinions. But the people fighting for survival in shelters, in their cars, or on their friends’ couches are not your enemies. They are our fellow Alaskans. There are so many people who are one car breakdown or one broken bone from losing their home. We applaud the governor for listening to the needs of Alaskans.

The Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (AKCH2) and the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) coordinate the Continuum of Care across the state to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time for Alaskans. Brian Wilson is the executive director of AKCH2 and Meg Zaletel is the executive director of ACEH.

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