Letters to the Editor

Letter: We need quick action

On April 15, as Sullivan Arena was demobilizing for the second time, I asked two questions: Who will make it out on the streets, and who will die? Anchorage’s largest shelter closed to most with no place for our most vulnerable to go. Being in the field of homeless services, I knew there would be casualties. I did not, however, imagine that we would be losing people so quickly after the demobilization. We, as a society, have failed to provide even the basic care to keep people alive; shelter and food. It is heartbreaking and unacceptable.

Take a drive down downtown and Midtown streets, and it is evident that we are failing to care for people who need us. Tents have been erected and we see people sleeping in wheelchairs and on the sidewalks. On a walk on the Coastal Trail last weekend, I found a man with amputated legs sleeping on the trail next to his wheelchair. At first glance, I thought he was deceased — instead, he was asleep. I couldn’t help to think he looked like a discarded piece of trash. Imagine having to sleep on concrete with no blanket, no pillow, no food, and with the threat that at any point, you can be victimized.

Before we know it, temperatures again will dip below 45 degrees. We live in Alaska, so we can guarantee that it will get cold again. Meanwhile, we have the land and the materials to build the navigation center on Tudor Road. We can provide shelter and services appropriately to people in 120 days, but because of politics the project sits. Meanwhile, people are dying. Let’s put people over politics and ease some of the suffering we are all seeing on our streets.

— Shawn Hays


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