New Year’s Day brought the first death of a client at Anchorage’s Karluk Manor alcoholic housing facility. Karluk Manor is operated by the non-profit RuralCap and allows its chronic alcoholic clients to drink in their rooms.
Reports are that a 54-year-old man, John Kort, was found unresponsive during regular checks by employees. Anchorage Police spokeswoman Marlene Lammers says police were told Kort had passed out and appeared to be intoxicated. Lammers said an autopsy would determine the exact cause of death. Melinda Freemon, Rural Cap’s director of supportive housing, says if Kort had to die at least he died with dignity and was in a safe place.
Karluk Manor opened on Dec. 8. The “Housing First” program is based on a model that allows clients to drink in their rooms in the hopes that a safe place will help spur recovery. Karluk Manor is operated with federal funds through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. The project caused controversy in the city, with critics concerned that it would draw more homeless alcoholics to the city’s Fairview neighborhood. Supporters of Karluk Manor said the project would help reduce arrests of and emergency room visits by the city’s homeless population.
Freemon said Karluk Manor operators realized there would be deaths at the facility. Most of the clients lived on the street for years before moving to the shelter. Freemon declined to comment on whether or not the death would affect changes at Karluk Manor.
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