Anchorage is surging capacity at its emergency homeless shelter in Sullivan Arena to 360 beds, up from 200.
Mayor Dave Bronson’s office announced the change Thursday, effective immediately. The addition of 160 more shelter beds comes after the Assembly voted unanimously to approve the increase on Tuesday, despite voicing frustrations about how the Bronson administration had handled the issue.
Recent heavy snows and plummeting temperatures have driven many unsheltered residents in Anchorage to seek refuge. That pushed the Sullivan far beyond its previously allowed capacity, as people crowded a separate warming area inside the arena, sleeping on the floor and with little access to food.
After Tuesday’s vote, there was some confusion among city officials, slowing the process of adding beds. The mayor said on social media Wednesday that the city hadn’t started expanding capacity at the Sullivan, asserting that the Assembly had made it so there was a five-day wait, calling the timeframe “cold and heartless.”
On Thursday morning, Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance sent a letter to the mayor saying that was not correct and urged him to immediately expand capacity, saying, “We, too, would like to see everyone currently in the warming area have access to a warm bed before Christmas.”
Bronson then announced on social media the city was beginning the process to expand capacity.
“God bless us, everyone!” the mayor said.