WASILLA -

Representatives from nine non-profits associated with the Mat-Su Coalition for Housing and Homelessness huddled in Palmer Thursday, to discuss what is working and isn’t working to solve the regional issue.

Coordinator Dave Rose estimates there are 900 people out on the streets at any given time, most of them young adults.

“In the Valley we have anywhere from 600 to 800 youth are identified through the school system, through the families in transition program there,” Rose said.

Wasilla resident Caity Wilson, 19, used to be part of that statistic.

“We were living in my truck in the middle of winter, sleeping out in the cold,” Wilson said. “We were couch hopping for a while.”

Wilson and her boyfriend landed a job at a greenhouse run by the non-profit My House, which is a part of the coalition.

"You can't have housing if you don't have a way to pay for it,” Rose said. “You can't have a way to pay for it if you don't have a job; you won't get a good job unless you have the appropriate education or training.”

Rose estimates there is only a 1 to 3 percent vacancy rate for affordable housing in the Valley. Although she loves her new job at the greenhouse, Wilson says it’s barely enough to pay her $750 rent.

“Between the both of us, between both of our paychecks, we only have a hundred dollars over after paying rent and electricity,” Wilson said.

The most at-risk groups identified by the coalition include prisoners re-entering society, seniors, youth and people on the verge of losing their homes due to eviction.

Some of the data collected during the meeting will be used to help non-profits pinpoint areas of need while they write grants to request assistance. The coalition is also working on a housing study for the Mat-Su Borough Assembly.