WASILLA — The coronavirus outbreak is affecting all walks of life, shutting down businesses and forcing people to self quarantine in their homes.
Like all other Valley residents, the homeless youth population has to deal with social distancing and other facets surrounding COVID-19.
MyHouse, the Valley’s only homeless youth shelter, is doing their part serving the community by focusing on their forte, the kids. They’ve added precautionary measures while adding additional services.
While MyHouse is limiting their total staff in one place, they meet daily to keep up with the ever changing situation to best support their clients during this time of great need and looming uncertainty.
Q: How’s everything been?
“We’re just trying to keep all the wheels on the bus. We created some space in our housing. We have one bed in each, one bed in mens and one bed in womens… Covenant House actually referred someone out to build a slot in the female beds today, so we’re glad to be partnering with them… just working real hard to keep everyone healthy and help as many kids as we can.”
Q: Are there any other things you’re doing differently to respond to this?
“Well, we’ve got cots at the drop-in center, so we can have supervised overnights for 17 and over. We’ve got the capacity for emergency shelter, should we need it. So far it’s looking good. We haven’t needed any emergency shelter which is great.
Q: At the main office?
“Yeah at the main MyHouse office, where the case management is. We’ll just have staff that spend the night there and supervise.”
Q: So everything is going good so far?
“I feel like we’re fairly well prepared. We’ve got lots of food… And providing case management still… I feel pretty good about and we’ll just do what we can to support the local kids in the community.”
Q: You’re youth focused over there at MyHouse, do you know about anything going on the adult homeless front?
“Family Promise is going to be using beds at their location instead of churches… I know they have a plan; and Knik House has empty beds as well. So, there’s room for people to come into housing if they’re in need of that.
Q: How important is it for people in transition to maintain their social connections and support network during this time period?
“Well, it’s very important. When it’s slow at the drop in center, our case managers are calling and online messaging kids just to see how they’re doing…and make sure they’re getting their needs met… It’s hard for the ones training in the cafe and the boutique because they don’t have that interaction everyday with their people you know?”
Q: Since the grocery stores are still open, have many kids found employment there?
Oh yeah. I know of at least two that were hired in the last 10 days. A number of them that have been laid off from other jobs have applied to be a part of that workforce...helping with the supply chain. We’ve got kids volunteering at the food bank, and all the things that we would hope they do to try to be a part of the community response.
Q: Any other important things you want to get out there?
“I would just say thank you to Mat-Su for supporting us and you know, that are being gracious to kids that are trying. They’re all trying. They’re trying hard to get jobs and do the right things and get their act together; and they really feel supported by this community.
For more information about MyHouse, call 907-373-4357, visit myhousematsu.org.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com