Some residents concerned about new proposed homeless shelter in East Anchorage

A cot at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska. (KTUU/KYES)
A cot at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska. (KTUU/KYES)(KTUU)
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 7:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Mayor-elect Dave Bronson is proposing a 24-hour large-scale homeless shelter in East Anchorage, also known as a navigation center, to address the homelessness problem in Anchorage. Some residents are in support of his plan, while others oppose the idea.

Bronson is looking to put the shelter near the former Anchorage Police Department headquarters on Elmore Road and wants it open by November. The Bronson team says it would cost $15 million.

According to Bronson’s new plan to address homelessness in Anchorage, the proposed shelter would be a “low-barrier” facility, meaning any person not considered a danger to others can stay there. Still, some residents are frustrated.

Samantha Emerson, a Campbell Park resident who lives near the proposed site, says she’s concerned about how the shelter would potentially affect her neighborhood, nearby trails, and parks.

“I can tell you in speaking to a lot of others in the area that of course there are significant concerns regarding safety in the surrounding neighborhoods, streets, (and) trails but I think more importantly, they’re voicing their concerns about what the ultimate effects of this proposal will be on the people it’s supposedly intended for,” Emerson said.

Joni Bruner, an Anchorage resident who has family members who have struggled with being homeless, says the issue of homelessness in Anchorage needs to be addressed in a different way.

“I don’t see where this is going to benefit people by housing 1,000 of them in one big shelter when what they really need is one small, maybe an apartment unit where they have the social services and different nursing and counselors that come in and help them on a daily basis,” she said. “I mean, it seems like it would be a far more effective thing to do with people.”

The Bronson administration’s plan calls for a facility that would house about 400 people. Bronson takes office on July 1.

Alaska’s News Source reached out to the Bronson transition team for a response to some residents’ concerns.

“The Bronson transition team is working with stakeholders, community partners and members of the Assembly to formulate a practical, compassionate, and outcomes-based plan for addressing the next steps for the homeless in Anchorage,” said Matt Shuckerow, a spokesperson for the transition team.

Meanwhile, the Anchorage Assembly is still working on proposed city ordinances that would also address homelessness. The assembly members are scheduled to vote on two ordinances during their meeting this Tuesday — one that would expand where homeless shelters can be located within Anchorage, and another that would require licensing for shelters.

The two measures were postponed to Tuesday’s meeting after significant feedback and calls to keep working on them from advocates and members of the public during the assembly’s last meeting.

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