A Word from the President

Thank you to all the CIRI shareholders who attended any of our recent Information Meetings, held April 20 in Anchorage, April 27 in Kenai, Alaska, and May 11 in Shoreline, Wash. I was happy to see so many of you come out to learn about CIRI’s business and the CIRI Settlement Trust.

As a reminder to those who have not yet voted, on Oct. 17, 2018, the CIRI Board of Directors approved an action to place a resolution before the CIRI shareholders at the 2019 Annual Meeting to authorize the establishment of the CIRI Settlement Trust. There are a number of benefits to the Settlement Trust, including tax advantages for both shareholders and the corporation.

For the CIRI Settlement Trust to be established, a majority (more than 50%) of shares present or represented by proxy at the 2019 Annual Meeting must vote “yes.” Although the proxy deadline was May 23, shareholders who attend the 2019 Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 1 in Puyallup, Wash., and register by 11 a.m., have the option of voting in person at the meeting. I look forward to sharing the results of the Settlement Trust vote in next month’s newsletter.

I am happy to report that spring has fully sprung here in Anchorage! Along with warmer temperatures, fully blooming trees and flowers, and extended daylight hours, we also see the return of illegal homeless encampments in city parks and greenbelts.

Homeless camps are a huge problem in Anchorage. Garbage, human waste and hypodermic needles accumulate around the camps, creating a public health hazard. When temperatures drop, people living in encampments often warm their tents with fires, threatening the safety of those living at and near those areas. Criminal activity in the camps, including violence, sexual assault and drug abuse, is common.

According to the Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, on any given day, there are about 1,100 homeless people living in Anchorage. While Alaska Native and American Indian (AN/AI) people make up only 15% of Alaska’s population, they compose an estimated 45% of its homeless population. Current and historical trauma among indigenous people factors into the prevalence and risk of homelessness, with AN/AI populations at high risk for many of the conditions that lead to and/or sustain homelessness, including disproportionately high rates of poverty, domestic and other violence, and behavioral health disorders.

A long-term approach to getting people off the streets, into housing and connected with supportive resources, is much needed. In April 2018, the Municipality of Anchorage announced a public-private partnership to provide housing assistance for people experiencing homelessness.

Over the last year, the Path to Independence community coalition project has worked to house 40 individuals/families, half of whom are AN/AI, in apartments owned by Weidner Apartment Homes and Cook Inlet Housing Authority. The program also assists participants in simultaneously pursuing stable housing, long-term employment and additional support services.

CIRI was pleased to accept an opportunity to engage as a funding partner for Path to Independence; along with a $200,000 commitment from Weidner Apartment Homes, CIRI joined with the 11 other Alaska Native regional corporations to pledge more than $50,000. I am also honored to serve on the Anchorage Homeless Leadership Council, which seeks to address homelessness in Anchorage by expanding the city’s housing and support systems, improving public health and safety, and increasing advocacy and funding.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness in Alaska, call 2-1-1 or toll free (800) 478-2221 to find health and human services resources and referrals, or visit https://anchoragehomeless.org/get-help.

Warm regards,

Sophie Minich