Alaska organization gets $5M grant to help homeless families

November 23, 2019 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska organization announced plans to house at least 300 more homeless families after receiving $5 million from a fund backed by Amazon CEO and billionaire Jeff Bezos, organization officials said.

Catholic Social Services in Anchorage was the only nonprofit organization in Alaska to be awarded the one-time grant from The Day 1 Families Fund this year, and one of 32 organizations nationwide, officials said.

“This grant will make an enormous impact on our community by expanding the work Catholic Social Services does every day to support families in homelessness to transition to permanent stability,” Executive Director Lisa Aquino said in a news release, according to KTVA-TV.

As of Thursday, a list by the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness said there were 92 homeless families in Anchorage, including 322 people, most of them children, Aquino said.

The grant would be used to expand the rehousing program and launch a new pilot program helping families before they potentially move into shelters, she said.

Catholic Social Services was founded in 1966 and provides multiple services in Anchorage, including running Brother Francis Shelter, the city’s largest overnight shelter, and Clare House, a shelter for women and children, officials said.

The announcement comes as Alaska organizations made a five-year pledge to invest $40 million to combat homelessness, officials said.

“Solving homelessness in Anchorage, Alaska, is something that can be done,” Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said Friday.

The fund launched in 2018 with a $2 billion commitment from Bezos and his now ex-wife to provide annual awards to organizations working to help families facing homelessness, officials said. Its two branches focus on grants for programs dealing with homeless families and preschools in under-served communities, officials said.