ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – State officials heard from residents and groups on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea in a first of its kind meeting to address housing overcrowding and affordability in rural Alaska.

KTVA-TV reports Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski chaired the hearing in Savoonga, saying about 27 percent of households in Alaska’s Bering Strait region are classified as overcrowded or severely overcrowded.

Murkowski says that overcrowding in Alaska Native households in tribal areas is often an expression of homelessness because families take in relatives or community members who otherwise could not find housing.

Christopher Kolerok, president and CEO of the Bering Straits Regional Housing Authority, says homelessness in the area can be deadly because of the severe winters, so many families live in overcrowded conditions.

Information from: KTVA-TV,

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