Anchorage Assembly hears more testimony on homelessness proposals

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 6:04 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -The public got a second chance to voice its views on two proposals the Anchorage Assembly is considering on how to address homelessness in the city.

One ordinance amending a section of municipal code would allow homeless shelters in the general business district. Another ordinance, which would add a new chapter to municipal code, would set standards of care at homeless shelters and also require them to be licensed in order to operate.

More than two dozen gathered at the Dena’ina Center Thursday night to voice their opinions. While the measures had their supporters, not everyone agreed.

“We are in a much worse place with regards to homelessness now before the municipality had its skin in the game,” said Stephanie Taylor, who opposed both measures because she feels the assembly moved too quickly without enough input.

“It’s very upsetting to me to know that I may have to carry a breaker bar with me every time I get out of my truck because of you guys stating that we can have homeless shelters all over the city now,” said Michelle Wrightson, who told the assembly she has felt threatened by homeless people.

Assembly Member John Weddleton is one of the main sponsors of both measures. He mentioned a poorly operated shelter, that has since improved, created the need for change.

“If we get another operator that causes a problem in the neighborhood, it would give us a tool to get them to change their routines, whatever procedures it is that’s causing problems,” Weddleton said.

Several people opposed the proposals because they felt the assembly is rushing to get them passed before Mayor-Elect Dave Bronson takes office. Assembly Member Meg Zaletel, who also sponsored both measures, disagreed.

“This has been a very long and ongoing process, and an urgent process,” Zaletel said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Both sides do agree on one thing: more shelters are needed — the question is where to put them.

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