Long term homeless in Fairbanks often face mental health and addiction challenges

Among many contributing factors to long term homelessness, mental health and addiction play a large role
Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 4:15 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The homeless population of Fairbanks faces several issues including mental health and addiction challenges.

According to the Fairbanks Homeless Coalition, there are around 1,949 homeless individuals in the State of Alaska, with around 10.10% of that total being in Fairbanks - around 197 as of 2020. Behavior health assistance is one of the crucial issues in Fairbanks that long term homeless individuals face.

“To me, one of the things that we really need right now is we need to step up our behavioral health game. I feel like for folks who don’t have a long term barrier, we have got a lot of resources to get people housed. We have an incredibly effective rapid rehousing program that is just doing amazing work and we have supportive housing,” said Mike Sanders, Housing and Homeless Coordinator for the City of Fairbanks.

About half of the homelessness is due to either financial or personal difficulties, these people are in the short term category of homeless. Those suffering from substance addiction or mental health issues are in the long term camp.

“Individuals that we’ve encountered last year and this year have several issues going on. Most of them have some kind of substance abuse whether its alcohol or drugs, and at least probably over half of them if not more also have mental health [issues],” said Roscoe Britton, Program Director for No Limits.

While there are programs in place to assist those facing long term difficulties, part of the problem is getting those who need help to accept it.

“The problem is we have a group of folks, about 60 folks, that are living in encampments, living on the streets, and we really need some help. We need to be able to get them into long term help and convince them the services are right for them and really work with that population,” said Sanders.

For those who wish to assist, the Fairbanks Housing and Homeless Coalition accepts donations of food, winter clothes, and monetary donations. For more information, visit the Fairbanks Housing and Homeless Coalition website or No Limits’ website.

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