Love INC of the Kenai Peninsula has requested $1.75 million from the Alaska Legislature to fix the roofs and other parts of the Kenai Merit Inn and nearby Way Café. The money would also be used to demolish the Merit’s bunkhouse building that’s in a rather dilapidated state and allow the group to purchase the facility instead of leasing it.
We support the group’s request for many reasons.
Both buildings have seen little improvement since they were built in the 1960s and are covered with coffee cans to catch dripping snowmelt and rain water.
If the legislature were to give Love INC what they asked, we are confident the funds would go a long way to making the Merit Inn a safer and more successful operation than it already is. The value of such an appropriation would be worth three or four times the actual amount of money changing hands.
The Merit Inn improves lives by casting a large safety net for the homeless in our community. The state already spends millions and millions of dollars helping those less fortunate in the form of various social aids like food stamps.
What the Merit Inn does is mostly volunteer and grant-based and they’d only need a nudge of funding to continue. In the end, what the Merit does probably helps save the state money by getting the down and out back on their feet faster.
It seems like a win-win — the state gets to help a private organization filling a community need where tax dollars otherwise fall short, and the less fortunate in our community can continue to have a facility where they can feel safe while getting their lives back together.