For immediate release
July 27, 2023
Contact: Lisa Demer, 907-545-3555
ldemer@rasmuson.org

Scroll down to download the press release and handouts.

A nationally recognized Anchorage public-private partnership working to ensure everyone has a home has zeroed in on conversions of hotels into housing as the quickest, most affordable way to realize the vision.

The partnership announced today that the former Barratt Inn in Spenard will open its doors for housing tenants in August. The nonprofit Anchorage Affordable Housing and Land Trust purchased the former hotel last year and is completing renovations for the predominantly studio apartments.

This stands out as the third hotel-to-housing conversion in Anchorage in the last year with a fourth hotel converted to long-term shelter. Together, the transformations add 332 new units to help reduce homelessness. This is the largest influx of low-income housing in a single year in Anchorage’s history. Hotel transformations come at a considerably lower cost than new construction.

“We’ve made significant progress in acquiring and renovating existing properties to bring additional affordable housing units to the Anchorage market for low-income residents. We’re receiving positive feedback from tenants who are thankful for an affordable, safe and consistent place to call home,” said Jason Bockenstedt, executive director of the Anchorage Affordable Housing and Land Trust. “While there is still much more work ahead, these new housing units are a significant step in the right direction.”

The leading cause of homelessness is the lack of available, affordable housing. People who have been unhoused or living in a shelter are getting access to furnished small apartments, the necessary first step to regain stability.

“We know the main solution to homelessness is housing. It provides the safe, private and calm foundation to address other needs, no matter how complex,” said Gretchen Guess, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “We are particularly enthusiastic about the remarkable partnership that proves the point: Solutions for deep social issues require collaboration and shared, clearly defined goals.”

The partnership matched public dollars, including investments by the Anchorage Assembly using one-time CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act federal funds, with philanthropic dollars to purchase and renovate the housing units.

The work has brought national recognition: the 2023 HUD Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships. The award recognizes “excellence in partnerships that have both transformed the relationships between the sectors and led to measurable benefits in housing and community development.”

“Rasmuson Foundation’s innovative work is receiving national recognition for the tremendous value they have brought to the State of Alaska,” said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Margaret Salazar. “Secretary Marcia Fudge knows that housing is critical to expanding economic opportunity, and government can’t do this alone. The Foundation is a critical partner to advancing HUD’s mission on rural housing opportunities, equity and innovation.”

Pictured after July 27. 2023, press conference: Foundation board Chair Adam Gibbons, former Senior Fellow Dick Mandsager, HUD Regional Administrator Margaret Salazar, Foundation VP Alexandra McKay, Foundation President and CEO Gretchen Guess, Senior Fellow Michele Brown and Foundation Director of Operations Bob Doehl.

The Barratt will add 96 housing units. The previously converted hotel properties are:

  • The GuestHouse (downtown) opened in 2022 with 130 leased units for low- and extremely low-income renters.
  • The LakeHouse (formerly the LakeShore Inn in Spenard) opened in 2023 with 45 apartments for low- and extremely low-income individuals.
  • 303 West Fireweed (former Sockeye Inn in Midtown) opened in 2022 as a long-term shelter for people with complex physical care needs who are experiencing homelessness. Though a shelter, the 61-unit facility is a step toward stability with private rooms and opportunities for healing inside and out.

More housing is on the way. Providence Alaska is building a 51-unit permanent supportive housing facility designed to address the needs of elders with significant health conditions who are experiencing homelessness. It is expected to open in 2024. In addition, the new 3rd Avenue Resource & Navigation Center connects individuals with a range of services, from getting an ID to counseling to housing.

“Since coming into office I have consistently presented and supported solutions like these we are celebrating today, to provide shelter, housing and treatment to individuals experiencing homelessness in our city. I want to commend the hard work of all the partners who helped secure and transform the Barratt Inn into a wonderful facility that will bring people off the street,” said Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson. “These nearly 100 units demonstrate the kind of results that come from cooperation and a focus on solving the tough issues we face as a community.”

All units at the Barratt will be fully furnished with beds, linens and private bathrooms. There will be kitchenettes or access to a shared kitchen.  Rent rates are tied to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Market Rent and will begin at $840 including all utilities. Tenants pay rent either as self-pay or with benefits such as housing vouchers.

“After years of investment, we know what works,” said Anchorage Assembly Chair Christopher Constant, who represents North Anchorage. “Hotel conversions are the most cost-effective and time-sensitive solution to provide Housing First, with private and nonprofit partners coming together to bring our community’s investments to life.”

On-site support staff — including peer support by those who have needed help and come out the other side — help residents connect to the services they need to maintain their housing and improve their stability.

The partnership is a collaboration among the Municipality of Anchorage, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and many philanthropic partners and funders: Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Alaska Housing Finance Corp., Richard L. and Diane M. Block Foundation, Calista Corp., Chugach Alaska Corp., Doyon Corp., Gottstein Foundation, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, Providence Alaska, Rasmuson Foundation, San Francisco Jewish Community Foundation, Weidner Apartment Homes, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and United Way of Anchorage.

“The hotel conversions realized through public-private partnerships are Anchored Home — our strategic plan — in action,” said Meg Zaletel, executive director of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness. “The entire community should be proud of the recognition from HUD. We now have a roadmap to increase the availability of affordable housing.”

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About the Foundation
Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are health care; the arts; organizational and community development; human services; and solutions to homelessness.  The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson, a Swedish missionary, to honor her late husband, banker E.A. Rasmuson.