Published September 14, 2016, by Michele Brown
Anchorage just achieved a Guinness World Records title when hundreds gathered to create the world’s longest fist bump relay. Our fun event on the Park Strip got wide press coverage throughout the country, but its real impact is right here.
As I stood on that stage looking out at the hundreds of people who had shown up, I thought about how homelessness in Anchorage is solvable – especially now. Never before have so many partners – community members, social service agencies, government, faith organizations, and businesses – taken a stand as a community that homelessness should be as rare and as brief as possible in our city.
Anchorage residents have long cared for those who don’t have a place to call home. We recognize that home is the foundation for a meaningful life – a sense of community, success in school, the ability to find and keep a job, and overall financial stability all start with permanent housing. The fist bump affirmed not only that compassion, but also that we are ready to bump up the community momentum, commitment and engagement.
Together we can improve the housing stability, economic security, and the health of people experiencing homelessness by embracing a “housing first” approach. Rather than extended shelter or transitional housing stays, we can more quickly connect people to permanent housing. Once housed, we then connect them with services to tackle the complex interplay of financial hardship, isolation, and medical, mental, or addiction disabilities they face.
The fist bump relay symbolically represented our shared commitment to not shy away from complex social problems, nor fear the hard work required to try innovative approaches. Compassion, commitment, and results-driven community collaborations will help us turn the curve on homelessness.
I’m proud to be part of the change, and I hope you will join us. Be sure to follow United Way of Anchorage on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, and check our website for updates and opportunities to take action.
It takes all of us.