On October 10, Stand Up Alaska began sharing the story of pre-law student Natasha Gamache on its Twitter account. Natasha is an indigenous single mother of 4 children who says she was served with a Notice of Rent Increase by her landlord. She says the increase in rent effectively priced her family out of her home and her family became homeless.
In an effort to spread awareness of how homelessness can, and is, occurring to “normal people,” Stand Up Alaska gave Natasha a space on social media where she has been chronicling her family’s journey as well as providing educational information on homelessness over the past few weeks.
Natasha’s family has struggled with homelessness over the years, moving in and out of shelter space. In 2017, the family moved out of a homeless shelter and into low-income housing. The following year, the family says it moved out of its low-income housing due to harassment from neighbors, which they say included smearing shit on her family’s doorstep and the vandalization of a van.
In 2019, the family says it was forced to move due to mold growth caused by a drain pipe that had been damaged in the 2018 earthquake. The damage, says the family, was unable to be repaired while living in their home.
Gamache was featured in the ProPublica series “Unheard,” which documented how she sat in a courtroom and told a judge some of what her ex-husband had done to her. He was being sentenced that day for two felony charges of sexual assault of a minor, and Gamache was giving a victim impact statement.
“Gamache said that in 2011 she had reported her husband to police for raping her and had helped police tape a confession from him. But he was not charged. Alaska’s state law at the time allowed a “marriage defense” in some cases where one spouse sexually assaulted the other. The law was changed in July 2019. Gamache’s ex-husband pleaded guilty to the charges of sexually assaulting minors, and that day in January, he was sentenced to a total of 36 years in prison. He is currently incarcerated. When he was offered the chance to speak in court, he said, “Everything that she said is completely accurate. Everything is true. There’s so much more she could have put in there that I have done.”Unheard, ProPublica
After Natasha shared her family’s story on Stand up Alaska last month, her daughter Denali started a fundraiser to help her family move away from homelessness and into permanent housing. Denali says it’s difficult for her family to not have a home of their own and that she doesn’t want to feel unsafe in a shelter where people fight, get drunk and beat on doors all night.
Since it launched yesterday, the fundraiser shared to social media by Stand up Alaska, has raised $1385 out of a $5000 goal. In the fundraiser’s description, Denali wrote that she hopes the money raised will help enable her family to be able to put a down payment on a forever home.
In October, Natasha testified at the Mass Care Exit Strategy Town Hall. Her powerful testimony, which begins at the 24:00 mark, can be seen below.