AHFC Nationally Recognized for Innovative Programs
When federally funded rental assistance became available during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Alaska Housing Finance Corporation knew how important the relief would be to families across the state and saw an opportunity to lend a hand.
Knowing that quick distribution of financial assistance was critical to help Alaskans at the highest risk for housing insecurity, Alaska Housing focused on innovative solutions and collaborative partnerships to reach as many people as possible.
Alaska Housing Rent Relief delivered more than $260 million in financial assistance that helped nearly 66,500 state residents. As Rent Relief began to wind down, Alaska Housing developed a new program with the remaining funds to provide housing for Alaskans experiencing homelessness.
The results of that hard work and creative thinking were recently recognized with two top awards by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.
Addressing housing insecurities is at the heart of Alaska Housing’s mission to provide access to safe, quality, affordable housing. Key to advancing both winning entries was Alaska Housing’s ability to think outside the box.
When presented with the opportunity to distribute nearly $300 million in federal rental assistance to Alaskans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Alaska Housing determined that technology would be the differentiator for success. No single technical system was built for such a massive undertaking so Alaska Housing took an innovative approach to create a unique system – stitching existing tools and programs into a seamless, game-changing product.
The effort brought together 14 housing partners representing 148 federally recognized tribes, five nonprofit agencies, and the Municipality of Anchorage, to use the Alaska Housing Rent Relief portal as a single entry point for applications statewide. The resulting system saw funds quickly distributed to more than 66,000 Alaskans in need and provided up to 12 months of emergency rent and utility assistance. Alaska was one of a handful of states to provide rent relief to all eligible applicants, meeting a key distribution threshold set by U.S. Treasury. Alaska Housing’s program has been recognized as one of the most successful distribution efforts in the nation.
Resourcefulness Benefits Alaskans
As Rent Relief efforts began to wind down, Alaska Housing looked for ways to innovatively address the needs of unhoused Alaskans. AHFC harnessed U.S. Treasury’s once-in-a-lifetime funding and flexibility to use remaining funds from Rent Relief to build an expanded program capable of bringing unhoused Alaskans into rental housing.
Housing Stabilization and Recovery launched February 2022 with the goal to get people off the streets, out of shelters and away from abusive environments. A family sleeping in a car were the first individuals helped by the program. Alaska Housing works closely with nonprofit partners across the state to identify individuals at risk for homelessness and help them find stabilized housing. From there, housing navigators help them find a rental unit. Every eligible client receives up to 12 months of rental assistance, as well as moving expenses and rental deposits.
Coordinated efforts address previous gaps and barriers in the system with a focus on creating an end-user experience that keeps applicants informed and empowered. More than 20 nonprofit agencies are enrolled as program navigators with operations in 10 communities including Anchorage, Bethel, Fairbanks, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Juneau, the Mat-Su Valley, Petersburg, and Prince of Wales.
As of Nov. 10, 993 households representing 1,715 individuals were being housed through Housing Stabilization and Recovery. Of those, 518 people were under the age of 18.
Innovation Earns Recognition
This summer Alaska Housing was also honored with a 2022 Sterling Achievement Award for Homelessness by the Council of State Community Development Agencies. The national Sterling Award recognized the forward-thinking approach of Housing Stabilization and Recovery.
Do You Know Someone In Need?
We encourage Alaskans who may be in need of safe, quality, affordable housing, facing homelessness or are in need of resources, to contact Alaska 2-1-1. This free, confidential resource can help you to locate assistance in your home community. Dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-478-2221 or visit alaska211.org.
About the National Council of State Housing Agencies
For more than 50 years, state housing finance agencies have played a central role in the nation’s affordable housing system, delivering financing to make possible the purchase, development, and rehabilitation of affordable homes and rental apartments for low- and middle-income households.
Leading Industry Standards
Established in 1984, NCSHA’s Annual Awards for Program Excellence identify and elevate industry best practices that effectively address the affordable housing community’s toughest challenges and encourage continued innovation from state housing finance associations (HFA). Award-winning programs must demonstrate how state housing finance agencies are meeting the demanding environment of housing affordability with resourcefulness and ingenuity.
The Annual Awards for Program Excellence includes seven categories:
- Legislative Advocacy
- Management Innovation
- Rental Housing
- Special Achievement
- Special Needs Housing.
In 2022, 40 HFAs submitted entries to this program. Nominated programs can be found at ncsha.org/awards.