CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich (left) and CIHA President and CEO Carol Gore load food boxes into CIHA’s new cargo van purchased with CARES Act funds. Photo by Kevin Bennett.

CARES Act-Funded Projects Benefit CIHA Elders

By Cook Inlet Housing Authority

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal program that provides relief for individuals and businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In August 2021, CIRI received its allocation of CARES Act funding.

Along with its socially driven enterprises, CIRI worked to identify the programs and projects best suited to receive funding. Two such projects are meeting the needs of Cook Inlet Housing Authority’s (CIHA) Elder residents through support vehicles.

Chuda House—Kenai, Alaska

In Kenai, Elders and persons with disabilities live at CIHA’s Chuda House. While its location is peaceful and protected, the housing community is located several miles from the city’s center. Many residents do not drive and must rely on family, friends or taxis to get to town.

CARES Act funding provided by CIRI enabled CIHA to purchase a passenger van for weekly trips to town so residents can access medical and retail services. The van is large enough to allow for COVID-19 safe-distancing protocols to be followed. CIHA is working with local nonprofits to create a sustainable trip schedule to begin in early 2022.

Centennial Village—Anchorage, Alaska

Protein is important for seniors because studies show that muscle loss starts at around 50 years of age and a protein-balanced diet can help counteract it. In 2020, the CIHA Resident Engagement team launched an additional effort to support food security at Centennial Village—a senior-living community located in East Anchorage—through the creation of a protein food pantry.

CIHA was already partnering with the Salvation Army for weekday lunches and with the Food Bank of Alaska for a monthly, on-site mobile food pantry event. Logistics changed quickly with the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, however, when what used to be an on-site pantry was forced to transition to a mobile-delivery service.

Unfortunately, CIHA did not have the appropriate vehicles for a mobile food pantry. The team was forced to use passenger vehicles to pick up bulk food orders and boxes and make deliveries. Thanks to CARES Act funding, CIHA purchased a cargo van that facilitates the delivery of protein-rich, shelf-stable food to residents each month.

Cook Inlet Housing Authority would like to thank CIRI for its investment in our Elder housing programs, allowing for our residents to remain healthy, active and independent!