Letter to Juneau Delegation to the Alaska State Senate and House of Representatives
July 5, 2019
Regarding: Governor’s Line Item Veto of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation Housing Assistance Program (HAP)
We, the General Manager and President of the Board of St. Vincent De Paul Society Diocesan Council of Southeast Alaska, Inc. (St. Vincent de Paul), are compelled to voice our opposition to the Governor’s line item veto of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation Housing Assistance Program (HAP). We urge the Alaska State Senate and House of Representatives to override the Governor’s veto to HAP, to this preserve this safety net for the most vulnerable of our State’s citizens.
St. Vincent de Paul has been providing food, clothing, housing, financial assistance and services to people in need throughout Southeast Alaska since the 1980s. We operate a transitional housing facility (SVdP Transitional Facility) for individuals and families who struggle to help themselves out of homelessness. We also manage five apartment complexes (126 units) in Juneau that serve low-income individuals, families, and seniors, including the Juneau Housing First project for the chronically homeless and chemically-dependent. Additionally, we operate the Dan Austin Transitional Support Services Center, the home to our five Community Navigators (case managers), free clothes depot and food pantry for the homeless and those in need, and our Vincentian Home Visit Teams.
Should the Governor’s Line Item Veto of HAP stand, St. Vincent de Paul would lose funding which supports our SVdP Transitional Facility, resulting in many of our clients becoming homeless and would reduce our capacity to prevent homelessness:
- HAP is used to fund our SVdP Transitional Facility in Juneau, consisting of 26 units the homeless, including 13 units designated for families with children and 13 units designated for couples and individuals.
- Clients can stay up to two years while preparing to move to permanent housing.
- HAP is used for facility costs, staff and rental assistance for clients who are expected to pay a portion of their rent.
- The SVdP Transitional Facility averages 55 clients each night (with 100+ waiting list), for a total of approximately 20,000 client/bed/nights in the last grant cycle.
- On average, approximately 25 of these clients are children (<18 years old), for a total of approximately 9,000 client/bed/nights in the last grant cycle.
- On average, approximately 80% of the adult clients suffer from moderate to severe mental and physical disorders or substance addiction, and usually both – and are unable to find housing elsewhere in Juneau.
If the Governor’s veto stands, St. Vincent de Paul will lose approximately one-third of its funding for the SVdP Transitional Facility. Already stretched thin supporting its aging low-income housing complexes, and increasingly-relied upon community aid programs, the organization has no additional funds to fill the loss of the HAP funds. We may need to close some of the units or close for part of the grant cycle. However, since the SVdP Transitional Facility is part of larger building complex that contains other low-income housing, support services, and soon-to-be city sleep-off center, we cannot simply close the SVdP Transitional Facility to save to facility costs. Additionally, staff that operates the SVdP Transitional Facility is shared with all our other housing operations and cannot simply be laid-offed. Actually, the loss of the HAP funding for the SVdP Transitional Facility funded-portion of such staff, will actually raise cost for other housing complexes.
St. Vincent de Paul acts as the “backstop” for those in need and homeless in Juneau. As a faith-based non-profit, we depend on the partnership with the State of Alaska to continue to provide essential safety-net services to Alaska’s most vulnerable populations.
Bradley Perkins, General Manager and Maureen Hall, President
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