Kenai social service groups, government meet on homeless

Posted: Monday, February 03, 2003

KENAI (AP) -- Representatives of church groups, local government, nonprofit organizations and the community will come together Wednesday for the Kenai Peninsula Homeless Summit.

The Kenai Peninsula United Way, in cooperation with Bridges Community Resource Network and British Petroleum, will sponsor the day-long event.

Bridges Board of Directors President Jane Stein said the idea behind the summit is to get community members to talk about an often overlooked problem on the peninsula.

''There's a lot of areas that need to be addressed,'' Stein said Friday. ''Like where we are, what is the need and where can we go. Let's stop and talk about it.''

Although the homeless problem is not as visible on the peninsula as in Anchorage or other large cities, Stein said it is an issue affecting a significant number of people in the community.

''It's something in this community that's here, it's been here and needs to be addressed,'' she said.

The forum-style summit will touch on a number of issues relevant to the homeless issue, including currently available programs, the role of faith-based organizations and mental health issues.

Stein said understanding problems faced by people with mental difficulties is especially important because they make up a significant portion of the homeless population.

''We see so often that that's who it is,'' she said.

She said the summit is designed to bring a diverse group of people together to work on finding constructive solutions to the problems faced by the homeless.

''We want to really encourage people that now's the time for the faith community and other nonprofit groups to come together and really talk about this.''

The summit will be held at the PRISM training center from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Marathon Road in Kenai.



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