Housing in Anchorage
Every city has areas populated by the wealthy as well as areas where the poor tend to congregate based on affordability of housing. Some cities have newer housing options available and many with increasing cost. Homeless people are more prevalent in major cities, yet smaller ones have them as well. The dissimilarity index provides a basis for comparing racial segregation among cities. Anchorage, Alaska provides a mix of housing leaning toward the wealthy and does not include a very diverse population.
Housing Prices and Programs
The median price of a home in Anchorage is $250,363 with an average family purchasing power of $57,924 ("Money Best Places to Live 2006"). Compared to other major cities, this price is fairly mid range. Many major cities have median prices in the ranges of $300,000-$500,000, but compared to the national overall median housing price of $190,000, Anchorage surpasses this number. The housing market in Anchorage is currently on the rise with many buyers looking to purchase and sellers seeing the opportunity for quick sales at little hassle. Houses that are priced under $150,000 and are in good condition generally only last on the market for a few days before they are snatched up by eager buyers. Ranch style homes are popular but are also more on the expensive side. Even smaller houses could cost up to $200 a square foot. "For the upper end buyers, Goldenview, Prominence Point, and Turnagain View Estates in Anchorage, as well as several subdivisions in Eagle River are doing quite well because of the low interest rate" (Evans). Housing in Anchorage is generally on the more expensive side comparatively speaking with other cities. The sellers will continue to ask higher prices as long as there is a market of buyers willing to pay the price. In this particular city the steady job market entices people to move there and for this reason, the housing market is booming and flourishing at higher prices. This is not true of the nation as a whole where there have been declining house values and appreciation rates have decreased in general.
Homelessness in Anchorage
It is estimated that the number of homeless people in Anchorage is 3,474 and the ability to get out of that situation has decreased in the last couple of years. Studies show that more than one in ten homeless people will stay that way despite outside efforts of local groups, charities, and soup kitchens. Also not just individuals are affected; families are as well. Since 2004, the proportion of homeless families has increased by six percent. On a national level families constitute one-third of all homeless people and seem to be the fastest growing group that is becoming homeless because of poverty reasons. Homeless people in Anchorage have a place to go if they so choose to do so and have the capability to get there. This place is called Safe Harbor and is the ultimate experience for the homeless person. They are treated to private bedrooms and chocolates on their pillows when they need to stay there. Lynn Ballew is the founder and the driving force behind Safe Harbor. She wanted to create a place where homeless Alaskans could go and receive support to help them get back on their feet. This program operates on very little public funding, receiving its support from the private sector and rents (McKinney). The city of Anchorage also works toward the goal of helping the homeless find permanent places to live. This particular project is called the Link Project which partners with eight organizations in providing services and management to ensure that some of the homeless can live on their own. Although homelessness is not a serious problem in Anchorage, accounting for roughly 1.26% of the population, policy makers, organizations, and individuals are all contributing to help out those who are unfortunate enough to be homeless.
Each city has racial diversity in some sense and many have neighborhood and housing segregation where different groups tend to sort themselves. Anchorage is a very non-diverse city in terms of race so therefore the segregation that does occur is on a smaller scale than other cities. However, there is segregation from the perspective that with respect to each race, the neighborhood they choose to live in is comprised of different percentages of the various ethnic groups. For example, white people often choose to live in neighborhoods in which the percentage of white people is the highest. In this city, the average white person lives in a neighborhood that is 73.2% white, 5% black, 6.2% American Indian, 4.9% Asian, and the rest comprising other groups and mixed races. Compared to the other races this is the highest percentage of white people. Although the percentage of white people in each neighborhood is higher than the other races, each other race chooses to live in a neighborhood where their particular race is the next to be represented. They do tend to however, have all around higher percentages of other races besides white than do the white people's neighborhoods. So, black people live with the next highest percentage of black, as do Asians, Hispanics, and American Indians ("Segregation. Neighborhood Exposure by Race").
Segregation in Anchorage can be viewed through the lens of the dissimilarity indices as compared to white people. This percentage says that in order to achieve equilibrium that when compared to a certain group, that percentage of white people must move to another neighborhood to make that race and whites evenly distributed. In Anchorage these numbers are 41.4% in comparison with black people, 35.7% with American Indian, 36.5% with Asian, 56% with Native Hawaiian, and 41.3% with other. As compared to, for instance, Atlanta, Georgia, these numbers do not represent an extreme amount of segregation. The same 41.4% dissimilarity index for blacks compared to whites in Anchorage is 68.8% in Atlanta. That means in Anchorage, 41.4% if white people would need to move to different neighborhoods for an even distribution while in Atlanta, 68.8% of white people will need to more to different neighborhoods to achieve the same goal ("Segregation. Dissimilarity Indices"). It is apparent that Atlanta is highly segregated based on this index, while Anchorage does have segregation but at a much lower level than Atlanta and probable many other bigger cities.
Income groups are often segregated as well and many believe that this has a distinct connection to racial segregation as well. Many cities contain poor sections of an underrepresented race because they are already grouped together. Also, blacks could have poorer neighborhoods because on average they earn lower incomes than whites. According to the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, "In much of the country, it turns out that class segregation plays a minor role. Neighborhoods are divided more by race/ethnicity than by income differences" ("Income Differences and Residential Segregation"). High poverty neighborhoods are those in which over forty percent of the population is considered to be in poverty. In Anchorage, none of these types of neighborhoods exist. About 4.4% of the population lives in neighborhoods in which over twenty percent of the population is in poverty. Black people in Anchorage have the highest percentage of living in poverty with the average black person living in a neighborhood where 9.6% of the population is in poverty. In comparison, the average black person in Atlanta lives in a neighborhood that is 15.1% in poverty.
Overall, Anchorage is not a very diverse major city in terms of racial differences or income segregation. They do not have an exceedingly large homeless population comparatively speaking with other cities, such as Atlanta. The housing prices tend to be increasing in this city, however nationally housing values seem to be dropping. Anchorage is a city that is experiencing growth due to increased job opportunities which is only going to fuel the housing market even further. In the coming years, it is possible that we will see Anchorage become more segregated by class and race as the population increases and the housing market becomes even more expensive.