Homeless Shelter Needs Community
By Marie L. Monyak
February 03, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - If you're an old time Ketchikan resident,
you may recall that the Public Health Clinic used to be across
the street from the American Legion at 628 Park Avenue. In the
early 1980's that building became the Ketchikan Homeless Shelter
and remains so today.
The wood and stone building is hardly noticeable unless you read
the sign on the door that reads, Park Avenue Temporary Home.
The City of Ketchikan owns both building and land and in turn,
donates it for use as a shelter.
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
Without the generosity of the
City, those who find themselves in dire straits, down on their
luck or in a transition period would have no where else to go
in Ketchikan. Unlike larger cities and towns, Ketchikan doesn't
have alleys crowded with the homeless living in cardboard boxes
or tent cities on the outskirts of town, all thanks to the homeless
According to Gary Boatwright, Treasurer of the Board of Directors
for the Homeless Shelter, "Our annual operating budget is
$50,000. Every February we receive a yearly grant from the City
of Ketchikan for $30,000 of which approximately $18,000 goes
to KPU for utility payments." The balance of the operating
budget must come from private donations or grants.
Just recently the shelter received $2800 from a Community Impact
Grant through the United Way of Southeast Alaska to replace much
needed bunk beds and two years ago a State grant helped buy new
kitchen appliances and cabinets.
Boatwright said, "Our manager is paid just above minimum
wage because we can't afford more. He's a wonderful man named
Ken Levy, he's been our resident manager for the past three years
and he does an outstanding job."
"Ken's [Levy] job isn't easy. He works seven days a week
and has to deal with people every day that have emotional problems,
mental illness, financial or health problems. It's a very stressful
job and we're grateful to have him."
The shelter has the capacity to house a total of 26 people. There
are three separate dorm rooms, two for men and one for women.
"At any given time our population is usually 80 to 90 percent
male," Boatwright stated.
The normal length-of-stay policy is five nights and a guest may
not return unless he or she has been gone at least one night.
"Naturally we have a higher occupancy in the summer months
because of the transients that come from down South," Boatwright
stated. "In winter we tend to be a bit more flexible on
our time limit policy because we not only have the space but
we get to know the tenants and their particular problem or situation.
If we know a person needs a little more time to get back on their
feet, we're willing to be flexible."
If a guest has found employment they are required to pay $3 a
night and the shelter may extend their stay until they have earned
the funds necessary to obtain their own housing. Board approval
is required for any stay over one month.
There are still more rules that the tenants must abide by. There
is a prerequisite that all guests must sign up for a cleaning
chore as a condition of occupancy. Although the furniture is
noticeable worn, all the common areas; kitchen, restrooms, day
room, laundry room and showers are noticeable clean and clutter
The doors are locked and all tenants must be out of the shelter
by 9 AM, presumably to seek employment, check in with job service,
veteran's aid or other social service agencies designed to help
the individual become self sufficient. The shelter does not reopen
until 5 PM and all guests must be signed in by 10 PM when the
doors are locked.
The Homeless Shelter is in need of support from the community.
Boatwright explained, "Laundry detergent, cleaning supplies,
toilet paper and the like, are a huge expense by the end of the
year. "The cost of home heating fuel comes out of our budget
and with the high cost of fuel now, we have less money for supplies.
"We need a steady income on a monthly basis to pay for these
types of expenses. We have one sponsor that faithfully donates
$50 every month. That kind of support is invaluable."
It isn't just money though; the shelter can also use volunteers,
anyone with expertise in the field of home repair. Carpenters,
painters, and electricians can assist with the upkeep of the
Like any home, the shelter has carpeting, draperies and couches
that are worn or have become soiled beyond cleaning and need
to be replaced. Donations of furniture and household goods are
Everyone in the community has something to donate whether it
be time, money, used furniture or even books and board games
for the day room. With spring cleaning right around the corner
we can all find something that can be put to good use by those
less fortunate than ourselves.
Donations may be sent to Ketchikan Homeless Shelter PO Box 9426
Ketchikan AK 99901 or dropped off at the shelter at 628 Park
Avenue after 5 PM.
Marie L. Monyak is
a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Marie at email@example.com
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