Anchorage

Anchorage Assembly committee sets meeting Sunday for public comment on emergency winter shelter plans

Sullivan Arena, shelter, 99 Plus 1, Inc.

The Anchorage Assembly’s Committee on Housing and Homelessness will hold a special meeting on Sunday to take public feedback on its proposed plan for emergency winter shelter and housing, which includes the use of the former Golden Lion Hotel in Midtown and Sullivan Arena.

The meeting will be at 2 p.m. in the Assembly Chambers at Loussac Library.

On Monday, Assembly members are slated to vote during a special meeting on documents that would allow Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration to implement the plan. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the chambers.

Bronson officials have said the mayor will not decide until he hears from residents in a “robust public process.” And while the Assembly can vote to fund the plan, it is up to the administration to implement it.

The committee reached a consensus earlier this week on sheltering plans for 90 days, beginning Oct. 1. City officials are up against a deadline, according to city law, which requires the city to open emergency winter shelter for unsheltered homeless residents once temperatures drop to 45 degrees.

Bronson also recently announced the city on Sept. 30 will close Centennial Park Campground, the East Anchorage park where about 200 homeless residents are living. An estimated 150 more are living unsheltered elsewhere in the city.

The committee’s plan includes:

• Using the city-owned former Golden Lion Hotel in Midtown as leased housing for 120 people.

• Opening a congregate shelter in Sullivan Arena for 150 people.

• Increasing capacity at Brother Francis Shelter in downtown for 20 more. This is already funded.

• Funding an increased capacity at Covenant House for 25 young adults.

• Funding semi-congregate sheltering via Bean’s Café for 40 adults.

It is not yet clear whether Bronson will agree to use the Golden Lion or Sullivan Arena. His administration shut down the city’s COVID-19-era mass shelter at Sullivan in June and directed and bused homeless residents to Centennial.

“This opportunity to hear from the public on Sunday will ensure that we can get the work done to provide shelter by Oct. 1 for those suffering in the cold,” Assembly member Felix Rivera, chair of the committee, said in a statement. “This addition will hopefully meet and exceed the Mayor’s request to hear from the public before making final decisions. I invite people to review our plan and attend our meetings on Sunday and Monday and to provide direct feedback to the Assembly and Mayor.”

Assembly leaders said they scheduled the Sunday meeting after hearing concerns from residents that the Monday meeting, when Assembly members plan to vote, is during the observation of Rosh Hashana.

To draft its plan, the committee reviewed recommendations provided by a community task force on emergency winter shelter led by the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. She earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Contact her at egoodykoontz@adn.com.

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