Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Large refugee families priced out of rental housing market in Alaska

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 18, 2012

The Anchorage-based catholic resettlement contractor Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services will no accept refugee families of more than six because it’s too difficult to find them apartments. In fact, affordable rental housing availability has been at a crisis level in the city for years. An article in the Anchorage Daily News covers the issue:

Finding rental housing for a low-income family in Anchorage is hard. If you’re part of a family of more than four people, it can be nearly impossible.

The availability of affordable rental housing has been at a crisis level here for years, said Rhoda Myers, who works with Catholic Social Services’ program for homeless families.

The situation is harshest for large families who face monthly rents comparable to mortgage payments and fierce competition for the few units available, say social service providers, economists and would-be renters.

“It’s very, very difficult to find an affordable apartment that is three bedrooms or more,” Myers said. “The cost just skyrockets.”

The consequences are overburdened shelters, and families who spend almost all of their money on rent or hopscotch between shelters and motels…

…Part of the problem is that there aren’t many three- or four-bedroom rental units in Anchorage and developers have little financial incentive to build more of them.

“There just isn’t the stock,” said Daniel Delfino, a planner with the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.

Karen Ferguson, the head of Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services, another Catholic Social Services program, said it has gotten so bad that her agency stopped accepting families of more than six because it’s too difficult to find them apartments. Refugees, who arrive in the country with no assets and live on a limited budget while trying to gain language skills and employment, put housing problems in stark relief, Ferguson said… Read more here

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