On Monday, the administration sent Assembly members a resolution calling for an increase of 160 additional beds at the shelter through March of next year. Bronson officials plan to lay the measure on the table for a vote during Tuesday’s Assembly meeting, according to the email.
The funding will help set up security and trash cleaning services at three city properties near the shelter. The president of Fairview Community Council called it “a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.”
Residents and business owners have cleaned up graffiti, hired security guards, tried to resuscitate people and — more than once – discovered bodies. They say nowhere in Anchorage will accept a low-barrier shelter until the city comes up with a way to deal with neighborhood impacts.
The nonprofit Henning Inc., a relatively new player among the city’s social service providers, insists it will not repeat the mistakes and policy missteps that gave the Sullivan Arena shelter a bad reputation in the past.
At least $6.5 million has already been sunk into the project, which was already underway after the Bronson administration authorized millions in work without the required Assembly approval.
The Assembly halted construction on the project last month, after the revelation that the Bronson administration pushed ahead with millions in construction work without first getting the Assembly’s approval.
By midday Friday, almost everything had been cleared, aside from a dozen or so camps still occupied by homeless residents and a few abandoned or broken-down vehicles that need to be towed out.
The campers who stayed at Centennial after the Sullivan Arena reopened as a shelter face a Thursday deadline to leave the public campground, even as officials concede shelter space remains in short supply.
The municipality is now obligated to pay for the work the general construction manager has done so far — under a contract upgrade that hasn’t been approved — or face a lawsuit, city attorneys say.
In this episode, host Elizabeth Harball talks to ADN reporter Zachariah Hughes about why, as winter looms, city officials are still struggling to agree on a plan to shelter people who are homeless in Anchorage.
At a special meeting Monday, Assembly members fast-tracked new measures intended to secure an additional 270 shelter beds, primarily by using rooms in a Spenard hotel and the city-owned Golden Lion building in Midtown.
The city had previously shut down Sullivan as a mass shelter in June. Now it’s shuttling unhoused Alaskans back to the arena.
The Assembly’s initial plan included using the Sullivan to shelter 150 people and leasing 85 rooms in the former Golden Lion Hotel. The mayor’s office wants to expand capacity at Sullivan.
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson said he plans to lock the gate and the restrooms and shut off electricity and water. The city will begin moving campers back to the Sullivan early Saturday.
The proposed plan for emergency winter shelter and housing for the homeless includes the use of the former Golden Lion Hotel in Midtown and Sullivan Arena.
Bronson administration officials on Wednesday said the administration wants to hear from residents in a “robust public process” before the mayor weighs in on a final decision.
The GuestHouse purchase is the second major piece of a multi-part plan to address homelessness in Anchorage that has come to fruition, which Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration and the Assembly agreed to almost one year ago.
The Anchorage Assembly called on the community task force to quickly draft plans for sheltering hundreds of homeless residents this winter.
Assembly members, skeptical or outright opposed, are again balking at increasing costs, the rushed timeline and the lack of information from the Bronson administration.
Alexis Johnson, Mayor Dave Bronson’s chief of staff, is becoming the city’s new homeless coordinator, while the city’s director of economic and community development will become chief of staff.
The mayor cited “concerns from the public and Assembly members” when he announced the decision at a Tuesday Anchorage Assembly meeting.
The Aviator, a privately owned hotel, has been home to more than 500 people experiencing homelessness over the last two years. The city and the hotel’s owners are planning to incrementally phase out its use.
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration said it will offer transportation to the 200-plus people living unsheltered in Centennial Park Campground to two new emergency shelters that the city will open on Sept. 29.
Bronson’s plan includes sheltering residents in 20 portable buildings, city grants for organizations and churches that stand up shelters, continued use of rooms in the Aviator Hotel and, if needed, sheltering people at the Spenard and Fairview recreation centers.
Listen: What happened, why and what’s next in Anchorage’s ongoing and changing homelessness crisis.