Research supports progress in Rent Reform
AHFC launched rent reform in 2014 in an effort to open up more affordable housing, be more efficient with federal funds and create a path to financial independence for more families and individuals.
Elderly Alaskans and those with disabilities benefit from stability in the program with long-term rent in a program called Classic.
The Step program is geared toward families with at least one adult in the household who is able to work, and it promotes independence by offering several layers of incentives and targeted support for families. The Step program offers up to five years of subsidized housing.
An evaluation of the Step program was performed in FY17 to explore the program’s implementation. The study showed that families were earning more, working more, and having less of their monthly income go toward rent.
Here are some specifics:
- Step households realized a 37.2 percent increase in gross income, and 56.18 percent increase in earned income.
- The program motivates families to become more self-sufficient:
- Eighty-five percent of clients surveyed reported that participating in the program inspired them to set goals.
- Sixty seven percent of clients started using household budgets to track spending.
- Sixty two percent of clients engaged in job searches as a result of the program.
- The average monthly rental assistance payment has decreased by $100 since the start of the program November 1, 2014.
- Operational savings have been redirected to add more than 50 vouchers for vulnerable families and individuals.
- Step was designed as a five-year program that encourages families to earn more money and become less reliant on housing subsidies through gradually increasing the family’s portion of monthly rent. The program is working as intended:
- End of fiscal year 920 families had entered their third year of the program and successfully paying the third year higher rent portion.
Gena's Road to Success
Gena’s path leads to happiness and a new life
AHFC’s Step program supports families who wish to increase their employment and financial opportunities. AHFC’s role is to provide stability and security while subsidizing a portion of their rent for up to five years at a gradually reduced amount so the family can focus on becoming financially secure and work toward financial independence.
Gena Marks first learned of AHFC when she and her kids were living in a shelter. Soon after, she decided she wanted to pursue a nursing degree. As a full-time mom and student Gena struggled financially. Looking for extra support she enrolled in AHFC’s Step program.
“When I entered into Step I knew I had a certain amount of years to become established so I set a goal for myself to graduate from nursing school and pass my boards.”
Through the Step program, which had 2,282 participating families in 15 communities statewide end of FY17, Gena was able to get the financial guidance she needed. She graduated with her nursing degree and became a registered nurse.
“I finally felt in control of my financial future. Step provided me a path to be successful in achieving my dream of becoming a nurse. I can let go of that phase of my life and start living.”
Great demand for affordable housing
The 1,612 public housing units across the state continued to be in high demand in FY17. On average 98 percent were rented throughout the fiscal year. That number makes AHFC’s Public Housing one of the most efficient programs in the country according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The waitlist for public housing is more than twice the size the number of available units with seniors representing 41 percent of the total list of 3,314 applications.
AHFC Public Housing as of June 30, 2017
Available units statewide: 1,612
Waitlist: 3,314 split between 1,930 family and 1,384 seniors
Locations: Anchorage, Bethel, Cordova, Fairbanks Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-Su, Nome, Seward, Sitka, Valdez and Wrangell.
Housing Choice Voucher
Voucher program fully utilized
AHFC’s Housing Choice Voucher program is offered in 12 communities statewide. The program assists eligible low-income Alaskans in renting from participating landlords. 4,107 vouchers were available in FY17 and fully utilized. The waitlist for participation in the Housing Choice program contained 3,494 families and seniors end of fiscal year.
AHFC Public Housing voucher program as of June 30, 2017
Available vouchers statewide: 4,107
Locations: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-Su, Petersburg, Sitka, Soldotna, Valdez and Wrangell.
Referral based vouchers serve critical needs
AHFC’s Public Housing Division operates its housing voucher programs with federal funding. The Alaska Legislature accepts available funds and through the budget process that includes signature from the governor, authorizes the corporation to spend it. The majority of the 4,994 vouchers are connected to the Housing Choice Voucher program but 837 vouchers are set aside to meet urgent and critical needs for vulnerable families and individuals. These set aside vouchers are referral-based. AHFC works closely with various state and not-for-profit agencies to make sure every voucher is used.
Here is a list of referral based vouchers:
- Empowering Choice Housing assists survivors of domestic violence with 185 vouchers. Partners: Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living, South Peninsula Haven House, Aiding Women in Abuse & Rape Emergencies, Women in Safe Homes, Kodiak Women’s Resource and Crisis Center, Alaska Family Services, Working Against Violence for Everyone, Sitkans Against Family Violence, The LeeShore Center and Advocates for Victims of Violence.
- Moving Home serves people with disabilities with 150 vouchers. Partner: Department of Health and Human Services.
- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing AHFC received 24 additional vouchers in FY17 bringing the total up to 271. Partner: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Returning Home offers service and support for parolees re-entering society after incarceration. Partner: Department of Corrections.
- Sponsor-Based Rental Assistance has 46 vouchers for Housing First property Karluk Manor in Anchorage. Partner: Rural Alaska Community Action Program.
- Project-Based with 155 vouchers supporting Loussac Place (families, elderly and people with disabilities), Ridgeline Terrace (families, elderly and people with disabilities), Susitna Square (families and people with disabilities) in Anchorage, and Main Tree Apartments (people with disabilities) in Kenai. Partners: Cook Inlet Housing Authority and Kenai Peninsula Housing Initiatives, Inc.
- Making A Home supports youth aging out of foster care. Partner: Office of Children’s Services.
AHFC goes smoke-free
AHFC’s 1,612 public housing units went smoke-free at the end of FY17. The decision supported by AHFC’s Board of Directors is expected to save the corporation money in maintenance, decrease turnover time for units allowing families in need to get into apartments faster, and create a healthier home environment. AHFC’s smoke-free initiative is ahead of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department’s directive that requires all housing agencies to go smoke-free before July 1, 2018.
Shop & Share
New tasteful food program in Fairbanks
Food insecurity is an issue in Alaska. According to Food Bank of Alaska it applies to 14 percent of the total population. In FY17 AHFC joined Shop & Share, a program in Fairbanks run by Co-Op Market Grocery and Deli. It aims to engage the community by donating food or paying it forward while shopping at the store.
Here’s how it works:
Shop – Choose an item from the menu at the cash register.
Pay - Purchase the item along with groceries.
Share – A voucher for the item is generated and shared with a family enrolled in AHFC’s Jumpstart program.
In the first 10 months of the program that started in October 2017, 58 families were served who live in AHFC’s public housing or have a Housing Choice Voucher.