Neighbor to Neighbor - A Community Solution for Homelessness

Contributed by John Rozzi

Did you know that an active program to recognize and combat homelessness in the Mat-Su started in the summer of 2012? This program entitled,” Neighbor to Neighbor: A Community Solution to Homelessness,” has helped thousands of residents at risk of homelessness; or already homeless, to secure housing.

What Homelessness looks like in the Mat-Su Valley

When we hear the word homeless, many of us automatically picture a person that panhandles, pushes a shopping cart and lives in a tent. Although true, most of the people we have assisted are fellow neighbors who hit a rough patch. Unfortunately, for many of our Mat-Su Valley neighbors, living paycheck to paycheck is not uncommon. And a situation like a car repair or reduced work hours puts the family at risk of homelessness because they’re short on money to pay the rent.

Additionally, this grant program has assisted a large population of residents at risk of homelessness or already homeless, who are single unaccompanied youth (18-24) or adults.

Looking Ahead

In the coming weeks, I would like to continue corresponding with you about topics regarding Homelessness in the Mat-Su Valley. Areas I’m going to address are “Defining Homelessness or being Homeless,” “Solutions to Homelessness,” “Not in My Back Yard,” and others.

Collaboration is Huge

I wanted to extend a big thank you to the following Mat-Su Agency Partners who have collaborated to help many residents avoid being homeless: Alaska Family services, Blood-N-Fire Ministries, Daybreak, Inc., Family Promise, MyHouse and Salvation Army, in addition to Valley Charities, Inc.

And thank you to the landlords and property owners for making affordable housing available over the past seven years. Without your partnerships, we could not have been successful. Additionally, thank you to the churches, volunteers and advocates for this cause.

John Rozzi is the CEO of Valley Charities, Inc.; Serves as the Operating Board Chair of the Mat-Su Coalition on Housing and Homelessness.