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Welcome to Beyond Shelter with Shawn


Did you know that 582,462 people (what would be 80% of Alaska’s entire population) were experiencing homelessness last year within the U.S.? It’s a scary thought, especially when you put it into perspective.   


Welcome to Beyond Shelter with Shawn, a bi-weekly conversation to better understand the roots of homelessness, because let’s be honest, homelessness is incredibly misunderstood. It doesn’t come from being unwilling to work or not caring; it’s a complex combination of extreme poverty, mental health and substance misuse disorders, trauma, and a lack of equitable access to resources, support, housing, and more.  


An unexpected trip to the emergency room or losing your job can start the domino effect into becoming homeless, it’s that simple.   


I started Henning Inc. in 2020 after my friend Shannon Henning was killed by an impaired driver in downtown Anchorage. Shannon was chronically homeless due to mental health struggles and addiction rooted in trauma, but those never lessened her intrinsic value. To honor Shannon’s memory is to ensure to that one else pays with their life for the shortcomings of our homelessness response system.   


Henning Inc.’s mission is to serve, advocate, and house Anchorage's most vulnerable citizens by providing resources and services, offering an alternative to both institutionalized and unsheltered homelessness. We recently won a $20, 000 Community Grant from Mayor Bronson, click here to read more about that and to check out our new website. This funding will go a long way towards addressing the roots of homelessness as we walk beside our clients as they become self-sufficient. In addition to winning the grant, we’ve been busy with our partnership with the Anchorage Collation to End Homelessness to house 150 people by June - and we’ve already housed 78 people! 


The reality of homelessness underscores the need for compassionate understanding and proactive solutions, that's the work Henning Inc. does, and our model works. We'll dive into how our core values and lived experiences drive our mission and vision through telling our staff and clients' success stories alike. Together we can work towards a future where homelessness is not just a statistic, but a solvable problem, and where every individual can thrive with dignity and support.   


There’s more to life than shelter, together we can go beyond.   


Shawn Hays  

Founder & Executive Director  


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