When COVID began, Brother Francis Shelter recognized the need to reduce capacity to keep our guests safe and socially distanced. To meet the needs of our community, BFS became more specialized in our care—serving elderly and medically fragile guests who needed individualized care. We recognized the need and, given our Healthcare and Homelessness Partnership , knew we were well-positioned to provide this care.
That experience confirmed what we’d long believed: smaller, specialized shelters and facilities are the best solution for Anchorage’s homeless response system. In a smaller facility, improved staff-to-client ratios allow for deeper relationships, individualized care, and better outcomes for guests as they get back on their feet. As Brother Francis Shelter has seen, smaller populations can foster a healthy sense of community and have a much lighter impact on their surrounding neighborhood.
Moving Forward with Advanced Services
Together with the large public-private partnership committing time, energy, and resources to address homelessness, our community is moving forward with smaller, geographically distributed facilities tailored to specific needs and providing individualized care. One of those new facilities is the Complex Care Facility at 303 West Fireweed Lane (the former Sockeye Inn.)
With the financial support of Calista Corporation, Chugach Alaska Corporation, Doyon, Limited, the Municipality of Anchorage, Providence Health & Services, Rasmuson Foundation, and Weidner Apartment Homes, the building was purchased by a newly created entity called Ship Creek Community Assets II. CSS will provide Complex Care services at the facility, building off the work started at BFS – caring for guests with specialized needs, including seniors and medically fragile individuals – in this new non-congregate project.
Complex Care will open on June 6, 2022, providing 83 beds for our community. This program is just one piece of a greater network of services needed in Anchorage, but it will be an important element in building a homelessness response system that has compassion and equity at the core of its values. Complex Care will increase the capacity of our homeless response system both in available beds and specialized expertise. It will provide support to our most vulnerable neighbors all while reducing emergency department visits and inpatient hospital stays, saving our city money and providing dignified care to our most vulnerable neighbors.
Most guests currently at Brother Francis Shelter will move to Complex Care, where their needs can best be met. Brother Francis Shelter will take this opportunity to temporarily close for one week to complete some needed maintenance and cleaning. During this pause, all guests will be transported to a facility of their choosing – Complex Care or one of the existing shelters. BFS will reopen on June 13th with a capacity of 76 guests – in line with this new vision for smaller shelters. We’ve coordinated these transitions and renovations with the homelessness response network, completing work at BFS before the Sullivan Arena closes so that we are ready to welcome new guests in a freshly updated space.
As an agency, we look forward to what the development of smaller specialized shelters and facilities will mean for our city, beginning with Complex Care. A decentralized network of specialized facilities will be more efficient, lower impact on our city, and move us close to our goal of making homelessness in Anchorage a rare, brief, and one-time event.