ALASKA 2-1-1: 2012 Half Year Data Reveals Growing Gap in Services that Support Alaskans Staying Housed
Anchorage, Alaska – Alaska 2-1-1 released its 2012 half year data snapshot on housing needs to the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation for the Governor’s Task Force on Homelessness. The data demonstrates Alaskans continue to struggle to maintain stable housing, and there are insufficient resources to address the need.
Alaskans can dial 2-1-1 and get connected to a variety of statewide community, health, and human services. At the 2-1-1 call center, information and referral specialists provide needs assessment, problem solving support and use a comprehensive database to refer callers to the appropriate services.
Of the over 11,000 statewide calls placed in the first half of 2012, about 22 percent (2500 calls) sought help with housing issues. The most common request was for rent and utility assistance, followed by requests for low income rental housing, domestic violence shelters, and transitional or temporary housing.
About 46% of the callers seeking housing assistance received referrals directly for the services requested and/or for other services that could assist. However, 54% of the callers who specifically requested rent and utility assistance could not be connected to that aid due to a persistent shortage of adequate resources.
For instance, in Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough 1093 calls for housing assistance, such as homeless or domestic violence shelters and transitional housing, resulted in referrals. But 576 requests for rent and utility deposits and bill pay assistance could not receive a direct referral because the service programs did not have funds.
Alaska 2-1-1’s ability to track rapidly changing needs and the availability of services ensures callers get the most up-to-date information and referrals. The data also provides an unprecedented real-time look at what’s happening in our communities.
Alaska 2-1-1 data are critical community planning tools enabling state, regional and local governments and organizations to identify service gaps, anticipate demand for services and mobilize resources to meet changing needs. “Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) uses 2-1-1 housing data to do a reality check on the housing data we get from other sources. AHFC and the Alaska Council on Homelessness can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our programs by using this data to address emerging needs. This helps us provide more people access to stable housing that meets their needs” said Dan Fauske, CEO of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
“When the economic slowdown hit a few years ago, requests for help climbed sharply,” said Michele Brown, President, United Way of Anchorage. “Requests continue to climb, although not as rapidly as they did in 2009, but the ability to meet that higher level of need never caught up with the increased demand. The long-term strain due to the sustained high demand has seriously taxed social service providers.”
2-1-1 call specialists are attuned to the changing nature of the calls coming in today.
“A few years ago it was notable that many of the callers said they had never called for help before,” said Karen Bitzer, Alaska 2-1-1 Director. “Now, more callers are repeat callers, experiencing frustration at not pulling out of their unstable financial situation.”
In addition to housing-related support, Alaska 2-1-1 provides Alaskans with information and referrals for a broad range of services from income support (general relief and employment), consumer services (tax preparation assistance), and basic needs (food pantries) to health care (community clinics and dental) and mental health (counseling and substance abuse services).