Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative treks to Alaska for project on homelessness
Author: Stefanie Knowlton
Posted: February 20, 2020

Four members of PSU’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) trekked to Anchorage, Alaska in the middle of winter to help launch a community project on homelessness.

Todd Ferry and Marta Petteni worked with the Anchorage Museum on the exhibit “Houseless,” which features work from the sleeping pod initiative at Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design. It is part of a larger exhibit and community conversation about homelessness in Alaska that also includes The National Building Museum’s  “Evicted” and the art exhibit “We Are All Homeless.”

Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative’s Director Marisa Zapata and Research Director Greg Townley joined community conversations and expert panels to kick off the exhibit, which runs through April 5.
“It was fantastic. People were really excited and eager to talk about looking at homelessness from a different perspective. Hopefully we build momentum with the talks, and the exhibit,” Ferry said.

The exhibit transformed the museum into fertile soil for cultivating ideas, raising questions, and sparking conversations around homelessness, said Petteni.

"I'm excited to see where some of those ideas, designs, and conversations take us."

Townley was struck by both the similarities and the differences in the homelessness crisis that Portland and Anchorage are experiencing. 

“I had productive and illuminating conversations with researchers at the University of Alaska- Anchorage about potential regional collaboration and ways to support one another in our efforts,” he said.

In addition to the exhibit, expert panels, and conversations, the team also participated in the Walk 4 Warmth, a fundraiser hosted by the United Way of Anchorage to raise money and awareness for families on the brink of eviction or utility shut offs in order to keep them housed and warm.