Shouting hurled as Bronson discusses his homeless plan with the public

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 8:23 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Mayor-Elect Dave Bronson hoped for a calm discussion about his plan to deal with the city’s homeless. However, shouts between opponents filled the Wilda Marston Theater Thursday night.

“Bigot,” shouted one person in the audience as Bronson talked out his proposed “navigation center” that would be built on a lot near the old Anchorage Police Headquarters.

The building would be a 24-hour mass shelter that could accommodate 400 people the administration says with room for more if needed. It would also house services to help clients find permanent housing. Aides to Bronson put the cost at $15 million.

“Some of the ideas you have are excellent ideas,” said Robin Kelly, who attended the meeting. “I wish they were around when I was the one needing the homeless shelter.”

But not everyone supports the project.

“What’s really been disheartening to hear tonight is how you refer to the homeless population as these people,” said Cris Blake.

Bronson refused to apologize.

“We call people living problematically on the streets with no place to go, we call them vagrants,” said Bronson. “I’m sorry but language has to be precise. I’m trying to be polite, I am.”

Others, however, found something positive in the discussions.

“I’m bursting at the seams because we are having a conversation about this and it matters,” said Julie Whatmough. “Look at this place, it’s full.”

“I’m not here to transplant the problem, I’m here to fix the problem,” said Bronson, who wants to have the mass shelter open by November.

He has said he will discuss his plans to pay for it after he takes office July 1.

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