We're learning more about why so many Alaskans spend their lives wandering the streets of Anchorage without a home.
A new survey shows that most have an income, and some even have a college degree, but mental illness and addiction are holding them back.
Groups of volunteers fanned out across Anchorage this week at 4 in the morning, part of a nationwide effort.
They counted the homeless and asked the campers a series of questions.
On Friday afternoon the Anchorage Coalition on Homelessness released its findings, which show that out of 355 people surveyed, 161 are at risk of premature death.
- 71% of those surveyed report a history of substance abuse, like alcoholism.
- 38% report both mental illness and substance abuse
- 40% report being the victim of violent attack during their time on the streets.
- 81% say they've spent time in jail.
“I think in general I wasn't surprised with the number of people, or that most of the people were male, but what I was surprised with were things like the number of assaults, the amount of traumatic brain injury people had,” said Corinne O’Neill, an organizer.
The survey also found that the average homeless person has been on the streets for more than five years, though volunteers came across at least one individual who had been homeless for 50 years.
The goal now for non-profits is to find affordable housing for the men and women in most need.