- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Fairbanks’ new housing and homelessness coordinator is focusing on bringing in more housing complexes that provide services to people who need help overcoming mental illness or drug addiction.

The city has an estimated 240 homeless people, or about 13 percent of the state’s homeless population, and they need more support, Mike Sanders told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/2r6Rc1i ).

His top goal is to establish permanent supportive housing that gives housing and services to people who may need two or more years of support to get on their feet, such as homeless people with mental illnesses, Sanders said.

He has reviewed the Fairbanks Housing and Homeless Coalition’s 10-year plan and is working toward updating it with short- and long-term goals, Sanders told the newspaper. The plan eventually will be approved by the Fairbanks coalition.

“My long-term goal is to dig into permanent supportive housing. It’s really a nationwide best practice,” Sanders said. Fairbanks also needs more family-friendly housing for homeless families as well as housing for homeless teens who are pregnant, he said.

One recent entry into permanent supportive housing in Fairbanks is No Limits Inc.’s Prosperity House, which used to be the Old Ranch Motel, the News-Miner reported. It provides housing for recently incarcerated people. Prosperity House, which opened in September, houses 30 people, Kelvin Lee, a director at No Limits Inc., told the newspaper.

Finding housing can be hard for people with criminal records, no rental histories and no savings, Lee said.

“I came out of the system. I was in it for 15 years,” Lee said. “I’ve been out 15 years now. But when you get out, you feel hopeless. You have a record. A criminal history. We like working with people with a history . We’re going to love you, but we’re going to hold you accountable.”

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