ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Hundreds of Alaskans will walk away from the Egan Center with new haircuts, lunches, state IDs, leads on employment and possibly new connections to housing, by the end of Wednesday.
It's part of an annual one-stop shop event called Project Homeless Connect, bringing together resources for homeless Alaskans in multiple communities.
Moreover, it's a source of help that April Durnford said she's counting on.
"I'm homeless and I don't have a job," Durnford said. "Trying to get some of everything I can for me and my daughter, because the last year's been really tough for us."
Durnford is worried about increased competition for jobs in the wake of Sam's Club stores scheduled to close in Alaska on Jan. 26.
"It's very hard," Durnford said. "It's very hard, and now with this Sam's Club thing, I don't know – it's gonna be tough."
Albert Mouton, a local veteran, said he's been looking for help with housing.
"A place that I can lay my head," said Mouton. "It's really bad out in the streets."
Attendee Jason Wilson said he hopes a hair cut will bring him work prospects.
"Job opportunities – being more presentable in front of an employer will better my chances of being able to get a job," Wilson said.
Alan Budahl, coordinator and member of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, said organizers try to hold the event on the fourth Wednesday of every January, in order to coincide with the national Point-In-Time count, which occurs the night before.
The PIT count is held to gauge how many individuals are living homeless in each city.
"The coalition has housed more people, so we're hoping the number of people will be down," Budahl said.
Budahl also works with Lutheran Social Services, and added that the number of people utilizing its services is trending down.
"We're seeing fewer people needing help with food, and we are down in our counts for HUGSS (Help Us Give School Supplies), Thanksgiving Blessing and Neighborhood Gift," he said. "So does that mean we have more people housed or have more people been leaving Alaska?"
By the end of Wednesday, Budahl estimates that around 600 to 700 Alaskans will have participated in Anchorage's Project Homeless Connect.