By Max R. Weller
See the Anchorage Daily News story updating Karluk Manor, that Alaska city’s Housing First facility for street drunks.
Quoting from the link above:
- Nearly six months after opening Alaska’s first “Housing First” residence, founders say most tenants appear to be healthier and drinking less. But three residents have died of alcoholism-related causes at the facility, which provides chronic homeless alcoholics housing without the precondition that they stop drinking, since December.
- Police say it’s hard to tell if housing some of Anchorage’s most prolific users of police and emergency services is having an effect . . .
- Three people have died on the premises of the 46-unit residence, a converted motel.
- Four people have been evicted for violent or destructive behavior. In April, a woman stabbed her boyfriend, who lived in a separate efficiency apartment, and is now jailed on assault charges. One tenant moved out on his own.
- The residents of Karluk Manor, who were selected from an initial 150 applicants, are some of the neediest and most vulnerable chronic homeless alcoholics in Anchorage . . .
- The nonprofit RurAL CAP says it spends $23,000 annually to house people who were each costing the public $60,600 a year in services.
- Karluk Manor is funded with a mix of federal and state grant money and rent contributions from residents.
- Anchorage police and paramedics have responded to calls from Karluk Manor 66 times, eight for someone feeling suicidal or attempting suicide, five for an intoxicated person and three for rape calls. The rape calls were investigated but did not lead to criminal charges nor did police find evidence that a sexual assault took place, a police spokeswoman said.
- Sixty-six calls in six months is a lot, said Sgt. Mark Rein, who works in APD’s community policing unit. It’s not as high as some other locations, like low-end motels.
- Paul Fuchs, head of the Fairview Business Association, said after six months his group still believes the project is a burden on a neighborhood already loaded with social service facilities. “We’re not objecting to Karluk Manor,” he said. “We think it’s in the wrong location.”
- One remaining issue is the proximity of liquor stores. The corner of 13th and Gambell continues to be a hangout for people trying to buy booze at one of two nearby package stores, though it’s hard to say how much of the that traffic comes from Karluk Manor, Fuchs said.
- Edwin and Geraldine Palmer are married but have separate units at Karluk Manor. “Being homeless is hard, dirty, wet and dangerous,” Edwin said. “You want to stay numb.”
Let’s deal again with the Big Lie that Housing First is cost-effective, a point which all of its advocates try to peddle to a gullible public. And let’s bring it closer to home by considering the proposed Housing First project at 1175 Lee Hill here in Boulder, CO (a collaboration between Boulder Housing Partners and Boulder Shelter for the Homeless). Start by considering the total costs involved, rather than cherry-picking only the costs of ambulance rides and incarcerations for street drunks:
- $800,000+ to purchase the property.
- $6 million plus to build the 31-unit project.
- Government benefits of all types for HF clients for as long as they live.
- Continuing medical treatment, hospitalizations, and prescription drugs for alcohol-related conditions suffered by HF clients.
- More incarcerations for some HF clients.
- Ongoing costs of staffing the facility with social workers, case managers, and security guards.
- Outpatient mental health and addiction counseling for HF clients.
- Loss of property tax revenue from the 1175 Lee Hill site, now owned by BHP, forever.
- Ongoing utility costs every month.
And the list goes on. So what if you save a few thousand $$$ per HF client each year — MAYBE — with fewer emergency room visits and trips to the hoosegow? There is no credible way to advance the claim that it will ever cancel out the humongous expenses listed above; and Betsey Martens, Greg Harms, Michael Block, Rene Brodeur, et al know it very well. But, Housing First is a big part of their livelihoods, so they’ll continue trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
I consider the whole deal to be unconscionable, especially with homeless families w/kids still on the streets here in Boulder County.