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By Dan Rudy 

Tribe initiates housing needs assessment

 


A survey to gauge the housing needs of Wrangell’s Native population launched last week.

Wrangell Cooperative Association is conducting a housing needs assessment, following up on a community needs survey completed last year and the results of a special stakeholders meeting held in December.

As housing issues ranged high among the identified community needs, this recent survey gathers demographic data and residential information from participants.

“We’re trying to get every tribal household in Wrangell to take the survey,” explained WCA tribal administrator Aaron Angerman. “We’d have pretty hard data which we’d be able to submit with any of our grant applications.”

A goal of at least 186 households has been set, to better reflect the estimated 270 Native households currently living in Wrangell. The information gathered from them would then be sent on to Rain Coast Data, a Juneau-based consultancy whose involvement is being financed through a small grant from Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority. The data would be arranged into a report, which could then be attached to grant applications for the next year or more, strengthening the case for project support.

Specifically, respondents to previous queries have made affordable housing for seniors a top local priority. WCA would like to eventually pursue establishment of an assisted care center to meet that need, either in association with the City of Wrangell or else through THRHA. As the city moves ahead with planning sessions for the former Institute property, inclusion of such a facility at the site is being considered.

Angerman said such a project could also bring in jobs, another area of concern identified in last year’s needs survey.

“They go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other,” he said.

More than senior housing, the ongoing assessment will also try to ascertain the community’s preference for medium- and high-density housing options, or whether more affordable single-family residences ought to be developed instead. With local year-round occupancy levels nearly at zero, additional housing has become a focus not only of the Tribe but of the city government as well, and Angerman felt the new assessment could be of help to the wider community as a result.

“From this it’s going to expand not only on senior housing needs but housing in Wrangell,” he said. “We want to address this housing issue.”

The 37-question survey is available to take online or can be picked up from the WCA office on Lynch Street.

“It’s online and takes eight minutes to fill out,” Angerman pointed out.

Native households submitting a completed survey will be entered into a prize drawing as an incentive. Three prizes are planned, including mileage for two Alaska Airlines round-trip tickets, a $500 fuel voucher, and a gift card for $250 in groceries. The hope is to have enough of them in by August or September to finalize the assessment.

 

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