Helping Alaskans Have Access to Affordable Housing

230410 JERUSHA GATFIELD KLB 0195   Small

Jerusha Gatfield knew nothing about affordable housing when she first moved to Alaska.

A native of California, Jerusha had been living in Norway for a year with her mother before coming back to the United States and choosing Alaska because of its similarities to the Scandinavian country. They found a home in Anchorage that was part of a privately owned affordable housing facility.

Learning About Affordable Housing

When the company that owned the facility had a job opportunity, Jerusha applied and soon was getting an education in affordable housing, which is generally defined as housing in which the occupant is paying no more than 30 percent of gross income for costs.

“I learned a lot living there but I didn’t know affordable housing existed before that,” she said. “I think most people don’t know much about affordable housing and when they do, a lot of times it’s not in positive terms. But they may not realize that a great place down the street from them may be affordable housing and that people are just taking really great care of it. I think most people who provide affordable housing want to offer a safe, comfortable place for people to live.”

Looking Out for Others

Today, Jerusha plays a role in doing just that as Compliance Officer for Alaska Housing’s audit department. Jerusha works with privately owned housing developments that received funding from AHFC’s Greater Opportunities for Affordable Living (GOAL) program to build rental housing.

Now in her 14th year with Alaska Housing, Jerusha has oversight of 208 different complexes statewide. She reviews records to ensure owners are following regulations and policies they agreed to, such as renting to lower-income Alaskans or to seniors. She also visits facilities to make sure owners are maintaining the developments up to a certain standard.

“We want to see: is it safe, decent and sanitary? That’s our goal is to make sure people have a safe place to live.”

Here to Help

It’s a role she became familiar with even before she started working with Alaska Housing – Jerusha was on the other end of those reviews when she was an employee of the privately owned affordable housing development where she lived. At first the reviews were intimidating, but she realized quickly the AHFC staff was there to assist.

“I started to understand they just wanted to help me figure out how we could stay compliant,” she says. “They took a lot of time to explain things. In audit our role is to determine compliance, we can’t tell people how to stay in compliance. But we can give them guidance and that’s what they did with me.”

Connecting with AHFC’s Mission

That approach is one of the things that drew her to a career with Alaska Housing.

“Everyone I work with at Alaska Housing has the same goal – doing something that directly provides housing to Alaskans, or helping to support those efforts,” she says. “Everyone is focused on that one goal.”

Want to join an inspiring team making a difference in people’s lives? AHFC is the right place for you. See our available jobs and come join our team.