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“I don’t think it is the right place at all”: Anchorage residents react to city’s plan for homeless shelters

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 4:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After weeks of criticism, the Anchorage Assembly is moving forward with buying four Anchorage buildings for homeless and treatment services.

Some homeowners say their voices weren’t heard and the process was rushed.

The Anchorage Assembly passed AO 2020-66(S), an ordinance that allows the municipality to spend $22.5 million to buy and renovate properties to help address the homlessness problem in Anchorage. $12.5 million in CARES Act funds would be used and $10 million would come from the sale of ML&P to fund the purchase of the Golden Lion Inn.

The ordinance authorizes the Municipality to pursue the purchase of four properties:

  • The Alaska Club building (630 East Tudor Road) is the proposed location for a midtown shelter with a day engagement center for the unsheltered population.
  • America’s Best Value Inn (4360 Spenard Road) is the proposed location for use as transitional and permanent supportive housing with a resource center.
  • The Bean’s Café building (1101 E. 3rd 11 Avenue) is being used for meal preparation and distribution, and is the proposed location for a downtown day engagement center to provide services to the unsheltered homeless population in that area, along with the clients at the Brother Francis Shelter.
  • The Golden Lion Hotel (1000 East 36th Avenue) is the proposed location for a substance use disorder treatment center for all seeking care.

Eric Connick, the general manager of Lithia Kia says he is supportive of the mission, but wasn’t given the opportunity to weigh-in on the ordinance until two weeks ago.

He says he’s worried about how the process was handled and should’ve been a plan that the community voted on.

“I don’t think it is the right place at all, I don’t know what the right place is, I think the public should help and figure that out, not only do we have small businesses, homes and traffic, we also have a small school right across the street,” Connick said.

Tiffany Spencer and her partner just bought a home next to the former Alaska Club location and say they were told last minute about the plan.

Spencer says local leaders haven’t told them what the plan is for the building and they are worried about their safety.

“As you can see the building is right behind our house, we have a six-week old, it’s just been more added stress than what we already have, just the idea of not knowing who is going to be living next to us, not knowing who is going to be our neighbors, not knowing if the safety of our family is going to be at risk, that’s the main part of it, it is why I was not for it,” she said.

The Assembly has said it rushed the process because the CARES Act money will expire on December 31, 2020.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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