A Public-Private Partnership catalyzes housing developments across Alaska
Alaskans across the state are feeling the effects of a mounting housing shortage. According to a recent study by Agnew::Beck Consulting, to meet demand, Alaska needs an estimated 27,500 new housing units over the next ten years, and we need to catch up. In 2022, construction of only 578 new housing units was authorized statewide. At that rate, it will take nearly 50 years to hit our ten-year target.
In the meantime, Alaskans across the state are experiencing the ripple effects of our escalating housing shortage: families struggle to find safe, stable, affordable housing; the stress of housing insecurity strains our physical and mental health; and housing has become a key barrier to attracting and retaining essential workers in Alaska. When teachers, nurses, and first responders can’t afford housing, our communities cannot thrive.
Though communities nationwide are experiencing a housing affordability crisis, Alaska’s housing challenges are particularly stark, exacerbated by expensive materials and labor costs, our rapidly aging housing stock and our new housing construction market isn’t keeping up with demand. Ironically, the worker retention and recruitment difficulties caused by our housing shortage further slow construction, renovation, and modernization efforts.
In 2022, Housing Alaskans: A Public-Private Partnership (HAPPP), a broad coalition of housing stakeholders in our state, created a fund at ACF to help collectively address the housing shortages by incentivizing housing developers with operational and capital funding to help projects cross the finish line. HAPPP received a $1 million contribution from the State of Alaska as well as both in-kind and monetary support from the Rasmuson Foundation to kickstart its efforts.
This innovative public-private partnership is made possible through fiscal sponsorship by ACF, which leverages its relationships in the community and the trust it has earned as a responsible manager of public funds to act as a vehicle for ambitious coalition work like HAPPP. When tackling this challenge, every donation matters: private funding spurs research and advocacy for public investment, and public investment drives private dollars to work in the areas of greatest need. HAPPP is the only source leveraging public and private dollars for statewide housing impact.
In June of 2023, the fund awarded $750,000 in “top-off” funding to six nonprofits to kickstart construction on new housing developments across Alaska, creating over 80 new homes for Alaskans. The grants are intended to reignite shovel-ready housing developments stalled by rising construction costs or to close financial gaps preventing groundbreaking or project completion in 2023. Even within these narrow parameters, HAPPP received 38 applications requesting $4.4M in a brief response period, so the need is real. The new homes will provide six communities with desperately needed housing solutions for seniors, very low to middle-income families, individuals seeking permanent supportive housing, and domestic violence survivors.
This collaborative effort is making a difference across Alaska! If you want to learn more about HAPPP, see their website and related articles linked below.
This collaborative effort is making a change in your community! If you want to learn more about HAPPP, see the articles linked below.
- Housing Alaska
- Philanthropy Northwest – How Partnerships Strengthen Oregon Community Foundation and Alaska Community Foundation’s Housing Solutions
- Alaska Public Media – HAPPP, Alaska’s first housing trust, has its work cut out
- Alaska Beacon – Alaska communities scramble to keep unhoused people sheltered
- First National – Path to Independence wins Strong Communities Award with help from First National
- Philanthropy News – Private funders contribute $7 million for housing
- Alaska’s News Source – $13M raised between a private, public partnership to combat homelessness
|Nome Community Center
|Home Plate Nome, LLC
|Sitka Homeless Coalition
|Hítx’i Sáani (Tlingit for “Little Houses”) Project
|Wasilla Area Seniors, Inc.
|Cordova Street Housing Project
|Tatum Self-Help Project
|Interior Regional Housing Authority
|Nikolai New Housing Construction