Volunteers offer help to the homeless in Anchorage

February 2, 2017 by  

Early last Wednesday, January 25, volunteers tried a new method for counting the city’s number of homeless people—they strapped on skis.

Starting at approximately 4:00 am, two people on cross-country skis headed into the part of the Campbell Creek greenbelt that lies close to Dimond Boulevard. The pair started canvassing the area, looking for homeless people who were camping there.

The two were taking part in a national homeless census that the federal government requires cities to conduct annually, on one specific January day. The event is known as the ‘Point-in-Time’ count of the homeless.

On the same day the volunteers were in the greenbelt, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness used the Egan Civic & Convention Center to hold a service fair. During the event, the homeless were able to take advantage of a number of free services, from getting haircuts, to writing résumés, to gathering information about legal aid and housing options.

Since taking office in 2015, Ethan Berkowitz, Anchorage’s mayor, and Nancy Burke, the city’s homeless coordinator, have been trying to get more volunteers to help with the count, and gather as much information about the homeless as possible. Preliminary results of the count indicate there are slightly fewer homeless in the city than a year ago.

Efforts like this can benefit if organizers use presentation folders to hold and organize the information they gather.