$23M project for homeless youth kicks off in Wasilla

Michelle Overstreet is the director of MyHouse, the organization sponsoring the Carson-Cottle Center. (Facebook Live screenshot)

A new facility providing shelter and job training opportunities broke ground Friday in Wasilla. 

Michelle Overstreet is the founder and executive director of MyHouse, the organization sponsoring the $23 million project. She says it will serve people aged 14 to 25 and is modeled after an award-winning apartment building on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

“What makes that building unique is that it has retail shops on the main floor and then wraparound services and housing on the upper floor,” she said. “So that when you move somebody in who is houseless, they have the opportunity for job training in the businesses on the main floor.”

The Wasilla project, called the Carson-Cottle Center, will include treatment programs for substance abuse and sex trafficking, a recovery high school and permanent supportive housing. On the main floor, Overstreet said, tenants will include a restaurant and a clothing store. The project came about, she said, because Sen. Lisa Murkowski knew she kept a photo of the Los Angeles apartment building on her office wall. Then one day, Overstreet said, Murkowski called.

“And she said, ‘Michelle, we’ve got an appropriation opportunity coming up. And I really would like you to apply,'” Overstreet recalled. “And I said really? And she said ‘Yes, I want you to dream big and send me something awesome.’”

Murkowski included the project on her list of earmark requests for a federal spending bill last year.

The center is slated to open in September 2025.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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