Trust grants to support housing for homeless Alaskans suffering from behavioral health issues


Shane Ersland


The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (Trust) will distribute $1.55 million in grant funding to support housing projects that will serve homeless Alaskans struggling from behavioral health issues.


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Trust awards around $25 million in grant funding each year to organizations that work to support Alaskans whose needs fall into one of Trust’s key focus areas, which include mental illness, developmental disabilities, alcohol or drug addiction, dementia, and traumatic brain injuries. 

“Trust is proud to partner with many providers, nonprofits, state departments, local governments, and tribal organizations to have a positive impact for beneficiaries and the providers that care for them,” Trust CEO Steve Williams said.

Trust accepts applications for funding throughout the year, and identifies award winners through a process that includes participating in community-led initiatives with beneficiaries, Williams said. The projects identified for supportive housing grants align with the Comprehensive Integrated Mental Health Program, which was developed by Trust and the state’s Department of Health and Social Services.

“We know that housing is a critical component  to the continuum of care,” Williams said. “Many of our beneficiaries experiencing chronic homelessness must have the safety and security of a place to live before they can commit to consistent treatment of health and behavioral health conditions, reducing or eliminating substance use, and obtaining employment or meeting other goals.”

The Nome Community Center, Inc. (NCC) was awarded $375,000, which will fund Nome’s Housing First Project. NCC will construct a new building with 15 units, where residents will have access to individualized supportive services. NCC does not currently have housing available for residents experiencing chronic homelessness who need supportive services, Williams said.

Bethel Community Services Foundation will receive $375,000 to build and operate a 20-unit apartment complex in Bethel that will serve homeless Trust beneficiaries. It will be the first permanent supportive housing project in Bethel, and there will be several amenities in place to help meet service needs of residents.

“Services that will be available to residents include case management, access to clinicians, food, traditional support systems, community-building activities, and healthy activities,” Williams said. “Residents will also have access to medical, mental health, and addiction treatment offsite through local community-based organizations.”

Unified Human Services of Southeast Alaska, Inc. will receive $300,000 to support the completion of the Teal Street Center, a community-services hub that will serve Trust beneficiaries in Juneau and its surrounding southeast region. The center will lease space to numerous Trust partner organizations to offer services to those in need. Trust also supported the project with a $150,000 grant in 2020 for its first phase of construction.

Catholic Social Services will receive $500,000 for the Anchorage Complex Care Shelter. The shelter will serve those who have complex care needs, including unmet medical services, and substance abuse and mental health issues.

Trust has distributed more than 350 housing-related grants for more than $68 million since 1999, Williams said. 

“Housing was officially designated as a focus area of the Trust in 2006,” Williams said. “Since then, we have awarded grants to organizations across the state that have supported housing projects, initiatives, and policies. Most of the housing projects we fund offer supportive services that intertwine with other Trust priority areas.”

In addition to housing, Trust supports projects that support addiction interventions, disability justice, beneficiary employment, and access to home and community-based services.

“We also prioritize efforts related to beneficiary-serving workforce development, and early childhood intervention and prevention,” Williams said. “While we anticipate continuing to support these areas, a dialogue around Trust priorities is a large part of our stakeholder-driven budget development process that we undertake each year.”