Supplies and services offered at Community Resources Connect event

The Jan. 30 event coincides with the nationwide Project Homeless Connect effort

The communities of Homer and Anchor Point last week held Community Resource Connect, a one-day event that aims to help those facing financial instability, homelessness or who are at risk of being houseless.

The Jan. 30 event, which coincided with the nationwide Project Homeless Connect effort, provided free supplies such as emergency gear, backpacks, comfort packs, food to-go, sleeping bags, hygiene kits, laundry and shower vouchers and winter gear as well as resources from local vendors offering support related to food, employment information, health care and mental health.

In addition to offering supplies and resources to attendees, the event also conducted a point-in-time homeless count and collected data as part of a nationwide homeless count sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The first question for the Homer and Anchor Point survey was “Where did you sleep on the night of January 29?” There are nine response options.

After completing the survey, attendees would tell the in-take worker what they are looking for and a navigator would help lead the person through the site to find the resource and supply booths they’re looking for.

Some of the primary things attendees were looking for last week included subsidized housing and public assistance. Public assistance is a state program that provides services such as child care, chronic and acute medical assistant, family nutrition, supplemental nutrition assistance, general relief, heating assistance, Medicaid and senior benefits. More specific details on the components of these programs can be found on the state website at

“It really varies,” Derotha Ferraro with South Peninsula Hospital said of the resources attendees often seek.

“Some people are really looking for resources for their pet. Some are primarily looking for employment assistance. Some are looking for feminine health care products. Once the navigator leads them through the booths, the person goes to browse on their own,”

Cinda Martin with the Homer Community Food Pantry has been one of the primary organizers of the event for the past five years. She said preliminary counts showed that 105 people in Homer and 35 in Anchor Point took the survey.

“One hundred and forty is about where we were last year with participants,” Martin said. “There were probably a few more who were able to skirt by without filling out the survey.”

In Soldotna, which held its own Project Homeless Connect event last Tuesday, 140 people also attended, organizers of that event told the Peninsula Clarion on Monday.

Martin said it’s important to note that Homer’s head count was about the same as central peninsula given that the local population size is smaller.

She said the number of surveys filled out don’t necessarily reflect the number of people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.

“The numbers aren’t necessarily going to show that these respondents are homeless or that they have housing insecurity,” she said. “They may, but until we actually go through the surveys and fine tune the questions like ‘where did you actually sleep last night?’, at that point we’ll have a better idea. Because for the event itself, everyone was welcome to come and get connected to our community services represented at the event.”

The surveys will be processed by Lindsey Collins at the South Peninsula Haven House, who will put together a final report that will eventually be provided to HUD, Martin said.

Martin said the Homer event started off with a small group of interested individuals who had heard about some of the local struggles with housing and were aware of the larger federal Project Homeless Connect program that was happening in Anchorage and Soldotna.

The initial Homer group thought that the point-in-time count was feasible considering other events put on in the community, such as the annual Rotary Health Fair, Martin said. In 2019, Martin and Jane Dunn, who was working with the KPBSD with the Students in Transition at the time, attended the event in Soldotna to observe how the process worked there.

“We came back to Homer and decided that it was totally doable and be a useful event for the community. The first person I reached out to was Derotha Ferraro at South Peninsula Hospital and she was on board and we started to collect a few other group members and we blossomed from there,” Martin said.

Members of the planning committee now represent many other local organizations including Kachemak Bay Family Planning, South Peninsula Behavioral Health, Homer Community Food Pantry, State of Alaska Public Health Nursing, Homer United Methodist Church, the Independent Living Center, the Anchor Point Food Pantry and the State of Alaska Division of Health.

In the event last week, there were approximately 45 volunteers who provided service in the Homer area and about a dozen in Anchor Point.

“That doesn’t include vendors; that’s strictly the committee personnel, in-take personnel,” Martin said.

CRC will offer the event again in January 2025.