The Kodiak Island Hostel opened for business earlier this month offering a relatively inexpensive bed for tourists and temporary workers in the community. But owner Rhonda Maker says she’s seeing first hand the housing crunch as foreign guest workers hired by the island’s canneries come to her looking for a place to stay. Jacob Resneck reports.
Hostels traditionally offer a simple place to sleep – usually a bunk, a common area and somewhere to fix a meal. Hostel owner Rhonda Maker shows the downtown hostel’s airy common room with a refrigerator, crock-pot and coffeemaker.
— Hostel 8
Already the 26-bed hostel is catering to visitors looking for work or just visiting the island for a few days. But since last week Maker says she’s been approached by scores of young cannery workers looking for a place they can afford.
— Hostel 2
21-year-old Kadir Tuna arrived here from Turkey more than a week ago. He says the company that helped him secure his visa said housing in Kodiak would be taken care of.
— Hostel 6
But when they arrived in Kodiak the reality was different. The cannery told them they’d be responsible for their own room and board.
— Hostel 1
Maker is renting bunks at a discounted monthly rate of $330. A bunk normally goes for $30 a night which is out of reach for cannery workers that are usually paid about $8 an hour.
— Hostel 3
The hostel’s night manager is Timothy Bouray. He works with Whitehouse Ministries and says many cannery workers aren’t being paid enough to survive in Kodiak. That, he says, is taking its toll on the community’s food bank and other resources.
— Hostel 4
Both Kadir and his friend Ibrahim Agarogla (Aro-lo) are university students studying computer science. They feel taken advantage of and plan to leave Kodiak next month.
Aro-lo blames both his employer and the agency in his own country for making false promises to students like him looking to earn money and learn English.
— Hotel 7
Now both young men talk of traveling to sunny Miami Beach before returning to Turkey in September.
I’m Jacob Resneck.