As Anchorage grapples with homelessness, ConocoPhillips grants $150k to community housing program

The Clare House, Catholic Social Services’ shelter for women and children, on Nov. 13, 2019. (Photo by Kirsten Swann/Alaska Public Media)

A large donation from a major Alaska oil company promises to help expand a successful housing program for families experiencing homelessness, Anchorage nonprofits say. 

The $150,000 gift from ConocoPhillips Alaska will fund the Community Housing Project, a partnership between Catholic Social Services, RurAL CAP, Salvation Army and the United Way. At a Wednesday morning press conference in the lobby of the Clare House, an Anchorage shelter for women and children, Catholic Social Services Executive Director Lisa Aquino said the fledgling program plays a key role in the ongoing quest to end homelessness in Anchorage. 

“At its heart, how we solve homelessness is we get people into housing, but there’s so much more to it than that,” she said. “For us, permanent stability is about housing, it’s about income stability and employment, and about social and emotional well-being.”

The Community Housing Project aims to support all of that, she said. It provides families facing homelessness with rapid rehousing, short-term rental assistance and case management, and since launching in 2016, it’s served nearly 100 households. Nearly 70 percent of them remained housed for at least a year. 

In Anchorage, there’s a steady need: More than 3,000 people received some form of assistance from Anchorage safety net organizations in the first quarter of this year, and more than 15 percent of them were children, according to data published by the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness.

Given the numbers, ConocoPhillips Alaska President Joe Marushack said Wednesday, supporting the Community Housing Project made sense.

“I think it’s a good investment, and I think it’s something that our employees would be proud of,” he said.

The company has donated more than $1.5 million toward Anchorage shelter programs since 1984, according to CSS. The latest donation will help the Community Housing Project serve an additional 10 families.

Related: Alaska nonprofit, businesses pledge $40M to combat homelessness in Anchorage

Kirsten Swann is a producer and reporter for Alaska Public Media.

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