Anchorage’s housing shortage is an everyone problem, and the Anchorage Assembly is committed to data-driven results. Last week, we convened community members, municipal employees, housing advocates, subject matter experts, builders, policymakers, developers, and business leaders for a solution-focused Housing Action Summit, which was the culmination of Housing Action Week. Through this process, we introduced our Housing Action Strategic Plan and invited feedback but, more importantly, buy-in and support. To make meaningful progress toward solving this complex problem, and we need everyone’s input.
As the legislative branch of our local government, we and our colleagues represent every neighborhood in the Municipality of Anchorage, from the Knik Bridge to the Portage Valley. The Assembly has a limited but powerful toolbox for implementing strategies. The Assembly sets policy, including code changes, resolutions, and policy direction: we have some power to remove the barriers the Municipality has control or influence over. We invest and incentivize desired outcomes, disincentivize other choices, direct investment through funding or budget choices, and make indirect investments through tax exemptions and fee reductions, or waivers. We have two-way feedback with the community about their needs and steps we can take to address those needs, education on existing issues, and the Assembly’s work to address the issues. Lastly, we convene and collaborate: We bring together partners and stakeholders for problem-solving and action, engage the community in solutions, facilitate and negotiate multi-stakeholder agreements, and advocate at other levels of government.
Our Housing Action Strategic Plan defines our vision: “The Municipality of Anchorage has affordable, abundant, and diverse housing opportunities that ensure that everyone who wants to live here can find a place to live that fits their needs and preferences.”
The plan sets out clear goals:
1. Increase the supply of housing units for sale and rent.
2. Diversify the housing market: housing types, sizes, price points, locations and ownership models.
3. Increase the share of resident-occupied housing throughout the year and reduce the number of vacant units.
4. Reduce housing cost burdens and ensure safe, affordable, permanent housing for all residents.
5. Make the Municipality a better partner in the development process.
The goals all have actions or items we recognize need to change to achieve our goal of affordable, abundant and diverse housing.
We offer you three ways to be engaged. First, take a walk! Look around your neighborhood, observe the different housing types, and any nearby vacant lots, and why they look that way. Do you love your neighborhood? Is there room for new neighbors to also love it? Next, start conversations about housing with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors, and learn their housing stories. Finally, tell local, state and federal policymakers about what you want Anchorage to be. You can start by emailing the Assembly at firstname.lastname@example.org: Share your thoughts about the plan, or what’s on your mind about housing.
Housing — calling someplace home — is the foundation of a thriving community. If we want to encourage economic development and create good-paying jobs, housing is a solution. If we want to retain and attract young families, housing is a solution. If we want to keep our children in Anchorage, housing is a solution. And critically, if we want to address our unhoused crisis, housing is the solution.
The Assembly will revise, approve and keep working on our strategic plan, which will involve some tough choices to truly achieve our vision. We can’t do it alone! We need the community’s commitment to these solutions. We want Anchorage to be a place where people can thrive, but we can’t have that if everyone can’t afford to live here. We are thrilled to have our friends and neighbors alongside us as we work towards solutions to make a space for everyone who wants to call Anchorage home.
Felix Rivera represents District 4, Midtown, on the Anchorage Assembly and serves as chair of the Assembly Housing and Homelessness Committee.
Anna Brawley represents District 3, West Anchorage, on the Anchorage Assembly.
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