Neighbors Helping Neighbors — The Alaskan Way
Facing The Challenges of COVID Together
Mindy Pruitt, executive director, Kodiak Island Housing Authority (KIHA), understands first-hand the tremendous impact generated by Congress’ approval of emergency rent relief aid.
Living in a small community where everyone has a connection, it quickly became apparent that many families in Kodiak would be needing help as they struggled to make ends meet and deal with the difficulties of COVID-19.
Job loss, health care, wellbeing, homeschooling, caring for sick family members, and the need to work in order to afford housing and basic necessities — so many things collided that made the circumstances especially challenging," said Pruitt. "The KIHA team is truly a caring group of housing experts, yet it took all of our skills and knowledge working together to problem solve and ramp up quickly to offer assistance to our community.
Pruitt said that their "overall goal was to reassure everyone impacted that we had resources available and at-the-ready to help pay the rent, allowing them to stay home and get well, or take care of your family.”
“Recognizing that our whole community needed assistance was one of the most important takeaways I have seen reflecting on the pandemic.”
— Mindy Pruitt, Executive Director, Kodiak Island Housing Authority
Creating A Partnership of Caring, Hardworking Professionals
According to Pruitt, one of the most remarkable aspects of the efforts surrounding COVID was the relationships that Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) coordinated and brought to the table as part of its Alaska Rent Relief program. The extensive outreach, and resulting partnerships of nonprofit agencies, municipal departments, and tribal entities, bought together an incredible group of caring housing professionals who truly embraced the need to help Alaskans stressed and struggling because of COVID-19.
This included not only helping to get critical information into Alaska communities, but also making it possible to more quickly generating payments to landlords. People quickly came together, offered expertise and moved information through their networks in a way that was cohesive and collaborative.
Sharing Resources And Helping Families
“For individuals and families, it is a big deal, and also a stress reliever, to know that their rent is paid and that they have housing for their family," shared Pruitt. "When you don’t work — even when you want to be at work, it is hard to make ends meet."
Pruitt is grateful for the partnerships and the collaboration that enabled KIHA to help so many area families. It really demonstrates what people can do when they work together and also reinforces the need for agencies and other groups to share resources and expertise as a caring housing community. “When people work together, we can make a difference," said Pruitt. "Alaskans helping Alaskans, it’s the Alaskan way.”