Anchorage Assembly OKs use of hotels to shelter homeless residents this winter

As the city pushes to open emergency winter shelters by next week, the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday approved contracts for sheltering up to 374 homeless residents in two hotels.

Assembly members postponed until Thursday voting on a contract with a nonprofit to run a 150-bed congregate shelter in the old Solid Waste Services administrative building.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration put forward several contract recommendations related to winter shelter for last-minute approval.

The timeline is urgent. Temperatures for weeks have dropped below the 45-degree threshold in city code that requires the municipality to activate a sheltering plan. At least several hundred people have been living unsheltered in Anchorage since the city shuttered its winter shelters in spring. Anchorage Health Department officials have estimated 500 to 600 people need shelter this winter.

Assembly members approved a $1.55 million contract with local nonprofit Henning Inc. to run a noncongregate shelter in the Alex Hotel and Suites in Spenard, renting 50 rooms for up to 100 people through April.

It’s the same organization that ran daily operations at the city’s Sullivan Arena and Alex Hotel shelters last winter.

The Assembly also approved a $4.34 million contract to Alaska Hotel Group for 137 rooms in the downtown Aviator Hotel for sheltering 274 people. The group is led by former Anchorage mayor and U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Sheldon Fisher, a former state revenue commissioner under Gov. Bill Walker. The same group opened rooms in the Aviator to hundreds of homeless people under city contracts during the pandemic and last winter. It’s currently renovating the Aviator and the 4th Avenue Market Place downtown.


Administration officials also recommended that Henning run the congregate shelter in the Midtown Solid Waste Services building under a $2.18 million contract. The Assembly is scheduled to vote on that proposal and two contracts for food services for city shelters at a special meeting Thursday.

City officials have said they plan to open winter shelters Monday. After shelters open, the city will clear the large homeless encampment at Third Avenue and Ingra Street, officials have said. The city last week towed and impounded many of the vehicles at the encampment that people had been living in.

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. Contact her at