Homelessness affects the whole community

  • Saturday, September 17, 2016 2:34pm
  • Opinion

Anyone can experience homelessness.

That notion should be viewed as the foundation for efforts to assist the homeless population here on the Kenai Peninsula.

Too often, people who find themselves homeless are thought of as “them,” when in fact, they are as much “us” as any other member of our community.

This past week, a pair of workshops were organized by community groups to look for ideas to combat homelessness on the Kenai Peninsula. Kenai Peninsula Journey Home is a new organization working on a collaborative approach to the issue. Other organizations, such as Love INC, Project Homeless Connect, several area church groups, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Students in Transition Program, continue to offer outreach and assistance to those in need.

Still, homelessness is a problem that won’t go away.

Homelessness on the Kenai Peninsula doesn’t necessarily look the same as it does in other places. We don’t tend to see as much panhandling on street corners as you might see in Anchorage — but the central peninsula does have a number of homeless camps, with people living in tents year-round.

But homelessness here is also just as likely to be a family or individual with no permanent residence that bounces from couch to couch or ends up sleeping in a car. And while organizations work hard to provide resources for those who find themselves homeless, one of the biggest needs remains temporary and transitional housing. Since Love INC’s Family Hope Center closed in 2013, people with no place to go have had very few options for a bed for the night.

Over the past several months, a number of other projects have been launched to provide transitional housing for people in other situations — for example, those recovering from addiction.

Challenges for maintaining a transitional housing facility for homeless families in the past have included funding, but also reluctance from the community to be part of the solution. We hope that attitude is changing. As we noted, homelessness isn’t as visible here as it is in other places, but it persists.

We are heartened to see members of our community continue to reach out and help where they see a problem, despite the challenges. After all, a community is only as strong as its most vulnerable members. But we’re all part of the same community, and reaching out to the members of our community who need help makes it a better place for everyone.

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened