Fairbanks non-profits receive financial help in fighting homelessness

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (AMHTA) has awarded grant money to three Fairbanks nonprofits to help combat homelessness.

The grants awarded by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority total $375,000. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)

The grants include $250,000 to the Fairbanks Rescue Mission’s Rapid Re-Housing program, $50,000 to Love in the Name of Christ’s (Love INC) Prevention and Diversion Project, and $75,000 to the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living for increased service delivery to the chronically homeless population.

AMHTA is a state corporation which operates like a private foundation. They work to provide services to beneficiaries statewide. This will be the second year AMHTA has provided grant funding for Rapid Re-Housing in Fairbanks.

Steve Williams, Chief Operating Officer of the trust, explained its primary focus, saying, “We’re focused on individuals who have experienced either a mental health disorder or maybe a co-occurring substance use disorder. Sometimes there’s individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities who are really having trouble accessing and maintaining safe, affordable housing.”

According to Williams, the Rapid Re-Housing program in use by the Rescue Mission involves three tenets: To identify potential housing quickly, provide funds for move-in, and to provide support services so that housing can be maintained.

“It’s important to us, and it’s important to the community, to make sure that those vulnerable individuals of Fairbanks have a safe place to live,” Williams said.

Brenda McFarlane, My Place Rapid Re-Housing Program Manager with the Rescue Mission, said of the program, “Everyone deserves that door that they can close, and a place of their own where they can work to solve problems and hunt for jobs and just be able to think a little bit, rather than trying to figure out how you’re going to walk all over the community, [or] where you’re going to get your next meal from.”

The Fairbanks Housing and Homeless Coalition (FHHC), which is comprised of eleven different entities in Fairbanks, studied the needs of the city’s housing insecure population and decided that adopting the Rapid Re-Housing model would best serve those needs.

FHHC Executive Director Mike Sanders has seen the benefits of the program since its implementation. According to Sanders, “It’s already been proven to be a game-changer in town, getting household after household back on their feet and back on their own.”

He spoke to the value of the grants in the fight against homelessness. “These three grants, they really are the things we need in Fairbanks the most,” he said. “We’re incredibly thankful for the work the trust has done and for them to entrust us with these funds to get the programs going.”

Sanders is also impressed at the help coming from within the community as well. “The majority of the funding that we get is actually local donations. Whether you’re talking the Rescue Mission or Love INC or wherever, the majority of those funds are coming from local donations, not from a state or government program,” he said.

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