Addressing Homelessness

From homeless to stably housed

We are working with partners around Alaska with a clear goal: to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time. To those who question if this can be done, we point to models like Houston, Texas, which has moved more than 25,000 people from the streets into homes. In Anchorage, where our Alaska effort is farthest along, new housing is in place and a navigation center to help individuals set a course for a better life opened in 2023. Yet much more is needed.

860New units of extremely low-income and permanent supportive housing, as of 2023
$15.3 millionIn support for those housing units

It started with Ed

Our Chairman Ed Rasmuson was relentless in his push to help people living in makeshift shelters and tents. “We’ve got to do something,” he said time and again. With business leaders and tribal and nonprofit partners in 2019, we launched what has become a far-reaching Homelessness Initiative. Just before Chairman Ed’s death in early 2022, we let him know one tangible result was becoming reality: a building for the most vulnerable at 303 W. Fireweed Lane. In all, the Rasmuson Foundation board has committed $25 million to date.

Building capacity

A sustainable system to address homelessness isn’t just buildings. To bring lasting change, a true system must be built. For several years, we supported a chief housing officer in Anchorage to help projects come on-line and currently underwrite a housing coordinator in Fairbanks. We hired senior fellows to lead our work and are providing support to two key organizations:

Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness

Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness

The Anchorage coalition has joined a national, data-driven movement called Built for Zero focused on moving people from homelessness to housed, counting down to the goal of zero homeless. The coalition tracks people by name, a marked shift from reliance on a one-night, point-in-time count. This approach encourages help tailored to individual needs and provides a clearer view of the system as a whole.

Needed surge in housing

The solution to homelessness is housing, and we are part of a public-private partnership buying hotels and other properties to turn them into housing or care facilities. Partners also are building new facilities. Overall, housing and supportive care for 400 to 500 individuals who are low income or extremely low-income has been added as of mid-2023 through a nationally recognized public-private partnership. As of mid-2023, the Municipality of Anchorage had invested $20 million and philanthropy matched that threefold.

Hope at Third Avenue Resource & Navigation Center

“I don’t want to be on the street.”
— Lynn

Recent and Upcoming Projects

Complex Care Facility

The former Sockeye Inn at 303 W. Fireweed in Midtown Anchorage reopened in 2022 as a facility for those most in need. Most of the 80-plus individuals staying there ultimately will need personal care attendants or assisted living. They are being connected to the right type of housing.

Guest House

In 2022, this 130-room former hotel in downtown Anchorage transformed into housing for those with low and extremely low incomes. Some 25 units are set aside as permanent supportive housing for individuals with disabilities who have experienced chronic homelessness and can benefit from services such as treatment and extra support from peers.

Additional hotels: Barratt Inn and Lakshore Inn & Suites

The Barratt and Lakeshore inns reopened in 2023 for residents who will be assured of their home through lease agreements. The Anchorage Assembly set aside $11.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars to purchase hotels, the most economical way to quickly bring on new, affordable housing. The hope is more housing for vulnerable adults, especially elders.

Providence Alaska

Providence is working with partner Cook Inlet Housing Authority to build a new, 52-unit permanent supportive housing facility for elders with significant health conditions who are experiencing homelessness. We invested $2 million in this project, expected to open in 2024.

Navigation centers

Multiple resource and navigation centers are envisioned to connect individuals to jobs, public benefits, health services, shelter and housing.

In partnership with us, Weidner Apartment Homes purchased the former Bean’s Cafe soup kitchen at the edge of downtown Anchorage and remade it into a navigation center run by Catholic Social Services. The 3rd Avenue Resource & Navigation Center opened in February 2023. Someone coming off the streets can take steps toward recovery, get a ride to the DMV for a new ID, or connect to benefits. They can find housing, too. The $1.88 million Foundation grant covers first-year operations. In Southeast Alaska, we are helping the Ketchikan Indian Community Housing Authority develop a navigation center.

Two housing trusts

With $1 million in seed money from the Legislature in 2022, the new Alaska Housing Trust has a clear goal: create new, affordable housing all over Alaska. The organization’s board of trustees will review and approve grant awards, serve as fiduciaries for funds held at The Alaska Community Foundation and work to generate revenue to increase the endowment. Subject matter experts from all over Alaska will serve on advisory committees making grant recommendations to the trustees.

In Anchorage, the new Anchorage Affordable Housing & Land Trust launched in 2022. This entity was established to take ownership of properties that will serve those who need low income housing, filling a gap in the system. It owns the Guest House, Barratt Inn and Lakeshore Inn.

Funding Partners

Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority logo
Calista Corporation logo
Chugach Alaska Corporation logo
Doyon Limited logo
Municipality of Anchorage logo
Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska logo
Providence logo
Rasmuson Foundation logo
Weidner Apartment Homes logo

Richard L. and Diane M. Block Foundation

San Francisco Jewish Community Foundation

Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Business and political support

Expertise and guidance from business, health care and local government comes together on the Anchorage Homelessness Leadership Council, created in 2018. 

Members as of 2023 are:

Mayor Dave Bronson, Municipality of Anchorage

Brian Butcher, CEO and Executive Director, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation

Greg Cerbana, Vice President of Public Relations and Government Affairs, Weidner Apartment Homes (Council Co-Chair)

Greg Deal, Alaska Regional President, Wells Fargo Bank

Carol Gore, President/CEO, Cook Inlet Housing Authority

Ella Goss, Regional Chief Executive, Providence Alaska

Gretchen Guess, President/CEO, Rasmuson Foundation

Erec Isaacson, President, ConocoPhillips Alaska

Paul Landes, Senior Vice President of Consumer Services, General Communications Inc.

Sophie Minich, President/CEO of Cook Inlet Region Inc. (Council Co-Chair)

Rev. Matthew Schultz, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church

Bill Popp, President and CEO, Anchorage Economic Development Corporation

Aaron Schutt, President and CEO, Doyon Ltd.

Steve Williams, CEO, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority