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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Homeless shelter comparisons don’t add up

  • Author: Dianne Holmes
    | Opinion
  • Updated: June 22
  • Published June 21

The homeless situation is best addressed with multiple components, including smaller shelters and treatment facilities. I’ve read the chart that the mayor-elect published comparing costs for his temporary “Site 27” near Tudor-Elmore vs. the old Alaska Club, Tudor near the Old Seward. I find the chart problematic — in fact, biased, inaccurate and prejudicial.

• $15 million for improving Site 27, which is said to be only a temporary shelter, doesn’t compute with the $5.4 million, plus needed upgrades, for the old Alaska Club. Given that Site 27 is only temporary, what costs can we expect for a subsequent, permanent site?

• Where are the estimates to install Site 27′s water and sewer utilities? Where would the police-impounded cars go? I’d like figures from an independent source, please.

• What are the costs to heat a “dome” — even a double-walled one — vs. the Alaska Club?

• The new Anchorage Police Department offices are downtown on 4th Avenue, so the statement that Site 27 would have an adjacent, persistent police presence is specious. Moreover, the chart lists the university police being 2.4 miles away from the Alaska Club. The university police are not APD. Most of all, that statement about being close to a police presence is prejudicial.

• The chart states that the Alaska Club can only handle 125 beds; actually, it is proposed to handle 315.

• Fencing, according to the chart, is said to be hard to do because the Alaska Club is on a corner. First, it is not on a corner, and second, why is fencing an issue? A shelter isn’t a prison.

• If Site 27 is to expand to 900 beds, does that mean park land and trails will be disrupted? Parks and infrastructure would need replacing, and that’s costly.

• Has anyone asked the homeless why they don’t like staying in shelters? I have. I was told, in part, it is because they are too big and noisy. So why should we believe that 400 to 900 homeless would be willing to gather together under a dome?

The Alaska Club is a permanent structure with water/sewer and close to the Golden Lion building, which is proposed to provide rehabilitation services. Both deserve to be part of the multi-component homeless solution and should not be given short shrift just because the mayor-elect wasn’t involved.

We are being given inaccurate information with scanty details in an attempt by the mayor-elect to put a temporary, expensive shelter in a place that isn’t considered to be in “midtown,” simply to fulfill a promise to his supporters. Major decisions need better and honest scrutiny.

— Dianne Holmes


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