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

The Alaska Capitol on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Alaska Voices: Legislature deserves credit

A special session shouldn’t have been necessary, but at least it was only one day instead of 30 days.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Alaska Voices: Please be safe, courteous, and legal as you fish in Alaska this summer

As you head out to hit the water this year, here are a few tips to help you have a safe and citation free season

An observer makes an entry in the Fish Map App on Prince of Wales Island. (Photo by Lee House/courtesy Salmon State)
Alaska Voices: Document Alaska rivers with new fish map app

The app provides a way for everyday Alaskans to document rivers home to wild salmon, whitefish, eulachon and other ocean-going fish — and earn money doing it

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Sustainability report is a greenwashing effort

Report leaves out “the not-so-pretty.”

Pictured is an adult Chinook salmon swimming in Ship Creek, Anchorage. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Voices of the Peninsula: Proactive measures key to king salmon recovery

I have been sport fishing king salmon along the eastern shores of Cook Inlet and in the Kenai River since 1977

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day

As we honor the men and women who fell in service to our nation, we must keep their memories alive through their stories

Shana Loshbaugh (Courtesy photo)
History conference seeking input from peninsula people

The Alaska Historical Society will hold its annual conference on the central peninsula this fall

Coach Dan Gensel (left) prepares to get his ear pierced to celebrate Soldotna High School’s first team-sport state championship on Friday, Febr. 12, 1993 in Soldotna, Alaska. Gensel, who led the Soldotna High School girls basketball team to victory, had promised his team earlier in the season that he would get his ear pierced if they won the state title. (Rusty Swan/Peninsula Clarion)
Remembering my friend, Dan Gensel

It’s a friendship that’s both fixed in time and eternal

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The false gods in America’s gun culture

HB 61 is a solution in search of a problem.

KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland
Reflecting on a year of growth and resilience

A message from the superintendent

Jim Cockrell, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. (Courtesy photo/Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)
Honoring the 69 peace officers who have died serving Alaskans

Alaska Peace Officer Memorial Day honors the brave men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty

Rep. Maxine Dibert (Image via Alaska State Legislature)
Opinion: The economic case for a significant investment in education

As our oil production and related revenue have declined, our investments in education have remained flat