Bethel Homeless Community Surveyed

Jul 31, 2019

The Bethel Winter House, located in the Bethel Evangelical Covenant Church, provides a warm place for people to sleep during the coldest months of the year.
Credit Anna Rose MacArthur / KYUK

Results are out from a survey counting the number of people experiencing homelessness in Bethel. The information comes from a single day in January when community members counted 74 people as homeless.

About half of the homeless individuals counted were female and half male. Almost all, or 96 percent, were Alaska Native or Native American, and most, about 88 percent, were adults. People counted were living at the Winter House, the Tundra Women’s Coalition, with family or friends, in abandoned buildings or vehicles, or other locations.

Survey results indicated that people who were homeless for the first time had been that way for less than a year, and people not homeless for the first time had been experiencing it for multiple years.

The day the count occurred in late January, temperatures reached 32 degrees. In a press release, Winter House Board President Jon Cochrane raised concern that the above-average temperature could have resulted in an undercount of homeless people. He added that with state funding uncertainty, the Winter House will need to rely on financial support from the public to continue providing the same level of services.