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Health Caucus to Discuss Homelessness in Alaska

Homelessness and housing linked to health

On Thursday August 19, the Joint Legislative Health Caucus will host a forum in Anchorage on Homelessness and Housing in Alaska. Recently headlines, featured articles, and television reports have painted a picture of the challenges in urban Alaska of being homeless and creating housing for Alaskans with mental health and substance abuse problems.

Presenters from the Anchorage School District Child in Transition Program, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Alaska regional housing authorities, the statewide coalition and homeless and housing services providers will give answers to the questions being sought.

Alaska has a high rate of homelessness.  Contrary to common perception that the homeless are predominantly male adults struggling with mental health issues or addictions, families with children are by far the largest sector, and their percentages are still growing.

Reaching a clear understanding of the growing forces threatening large and growing numbers of youth, adults ad families is urgent.

According to the Statewide Coalition on Homelessness and Housing, the primary cause of homelessness is insufficient income and high housing costs. Without some sort of housing assistance, many people are priced out of the housing market.

"During our Health Caucus forums with communities throughout the state, we have heard from mourning family members whose relatives have gone to larger communities in search of jobs and opportunities.  They return home to be buried.   We hope to get a better understanding of how our state can build not only hopeful, but positive solutions, and what the costs are of dealing with or not dealing with the problems, " reported Health Caucus Co-Chair Representative Cissna."

The meeting will be held on Thursday, August 19 from noon until 2:00pm in Room 220 in the Anchorage Legislative Information Office at 716 W. 4th Avenue.  It is open to the public. Those who cannot join in person may join the meeting through local Legislative Information Offices or through the statewide legislative teleconference system.

For more information, or to join the teleconference, call (907) 269-0190 or toll free (800) 922-3875 from outside of Anchorage.

The final agenda is on the caucus website, www.akhealthcaucus.org.

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