Homeward Bound Success

Photo 1: Homeward Bound Staff
Homeward Bound staff celebrate their national award for innovation in transitional housing and treatment for the chronic homeless.

Mountain View Elementary Students throwing their hats
Mountain View Elementary School students gleefully accept their hats and mittens from the Homeward Bound program.

P.M. is a 50-year-old Aleut Native from the far end of the Aleutian Islands, who first arrived at Homeward Bound in Anchorage in May of 1997. He'd moved to the mainland looking for work and hope. P. is a small, quiet man who worked hard and steadily but, as is culturally appropriate, seldom stood out, and made friends slowly. He was also a veteran of several years in the National Guard.

Drinking had started early in his life, as a way to loosen up, laugh and relax. Life in the Islands was safe - everybody knew everybody and nothing much changed in the traditional village in his lifetime.

Coming to Anchorage was a very different story - new, strange people and customs, unexpected dangers, different rules for living, things he had never even thought of. By the time he arrived in Anchorage, the bottle had been his companion for 32 years and he'd lived the previous 10 years without a consistent home or shelter.

P.'s wife had similar problems, but they'd stuck together through many a rough time. When P. enrolled in the Homeward Bound program and began his journey to change his life, she wasn't willing to join him, so P. had to make that journey on his own.

P. graduated from Homeward Bound about a year later. P has worked at the same job since 1999, and has lived in the same place for several years. When he was first looking for work as a sober person, he hoped that he could make $4.12 an hour - now he makes $11.25, with benefits.

P. stops by Homeward Bound now and then - sometimes just for a visit, sometimes looking for a little direction. He's always welcome - he's good company and a good man.

He says that every day remains a challenge. He still has bouts of depression since his wife passed away, and the rise in gasoline prices is hurting his ability to get around. Age has also brought its share of health issues.

Photo 3: Participants sewing warm hats and mittens
Homeward Bound participants, the majority of whom are Alaska Natives, sewed warm hats and mittens for school children at Mountain View Elementary School. The school is near the transitional housing program, and many of the school's students are also Alaska Natives.

"Things didn't become perfect - just better and more predictable. Hope is more a possibility to me nowadays"

Homeward Bound is a 25-bed transitional living program offering chronic homeless alcoholics the tools and resources to move from decades of homelessness to stable, meaningful and personally satisfying reintegration into the community. It is a nationally acclaimed community reintegration program; one of only three known programs in the United States that engages, detoxifies, and provides transitional housing with ongoing case management, life skills, advocacy, and self-empowerment training.

Homeward Bound receives funding from HUD's Shelter Plus Care program and from the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.

Content Archived: August 15, 2011