Homer residents invited to a community conversation on affordable housing
Homer residents struggling to find affordable housing will have a chance to voice their concerns at an upcoming community meeting. Local organizations and the City of Homer are joining forces to tackle the issue of housing insecurity in our area, and they're inviting the public to join the conversation.
Jane Dunn is co-director of Choosing Our Roots, a nonprofit that works to address homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth in Alaska. She said the goal of the meeting is to begin developing solutions that are in line with what the community wants.
“We want to be working together and collaboratively to find ways to come up with as many solutions as possible and begin working towards those solutions,” Dunn said during a KBBI Coffee Table on Wednesday. “It's not just to talk about it, it's really to get lots of balls moving in different directions.”
Choosing Our Roots is one of several organizations hosting the meeting on March 25 along with the city.
Access to affordable housing is an ongoing issue and affects everyone, from seasonal summer workers to city employees. According to city officials, many local homes are only available for short-term leases, which essentially makes it impossible for people looking for longer-term affordable housing to find it.
Ryan Foster has been a special projects coordinator with the City of Homer for eight months. He commutes about an hour and a half to Homer two days a week since he’s been unable to make a permanent move amid the local housing shortage.
“I still reside in the Soldotna area,” Foster said. “And actually to take this position here, it needed to be a hybrid position where I come down two days a week, I make the round trip Mondays and Wednesdays so I'm here in person, and then I work from home the rest of those days. That hybrid schedule was something I sort of had to have in order to make this work.”
Foster said the housing event is about community members coming together, talking about the challenges and barriers they’re experiencing, as well as brainstorming potential solutions.
But he said, they’re aware they’re not going to solve the housing challenge in one half-day event.
“I think some of the group members have some ideas about next steps that we'll be sharing at the event as well, realizing that housing is a complex topic,” Foster said. “There's sort of a mosaic of all sorts of different people that are impacted in many different ways, that this is a challenge that we're going to have to continue working on over really probably the longer term.”
Foster said the city will be recording the information from the meeting and drafting a report.
He asks that people fill out a Homer housing survey ahead of the meeting.
Questions on the survey will be tailored to each person who takes it, based on whether they are looking for housing, offering housing, an employer interested in housing solutions for employees, or just an interested community member.
The community conversation will take place next Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Christian Community Church on Bartlett Street.
The Community Housing Survey and the Employer Housing Survey can be found here.