Houseless shelter situation yet to be resolved; Working group confident with the future

Anchorage Assembly members meet on July 13, 2021.
Anchorage Assembly members meet on July 13, 2021.(Jeremy Kashatok // Alaska's News Source)
Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 7:40 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Sept. 14 deadline for a draft plan to house people experiencing homelessness to be presented to the Anchorage Assembly is quickly approaching, as well as the winter season.

So far, Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant has appreciated the robust discussion and progress being made.

“We have been hearing lots of input from the community: neighbors, residents, community councils, stakeholders, operators of shelters, individuals who have experienced homelessness, all of it,” Constant said. “We are definitely hearing robustly from the public on this question at this time ... the public is engaged.”

Assembly member John Weddleton added that the working group has shortened the initial list of 30 potential sites down to about eight possible locations for a mass shelter facility for this winter.

“The 450-person site off of Tudor and Elmore is still in play,” Weddleton said. “It’s not an unrealistic option. But also we have some smaller sites and it could be any combination of a few smaller sites.”

Lisa Aquino, CEO of Catholic Social Services, stressed how quickly winter is coming and said that a short-term solution must be agreed to as soon as possible.

“The increase in rain and snow is what really brings more people into shelter than anything else,” Aquino said. “So, we need to be prepared and ready for this ... it’s always a challenge every year. There also needs to be longer-term solutions”.

Aquino mentioned that Catholic Social Services also supports the need for more low-income housing, suitable shelters, and safe staffing ratios. The organization sees that number as one employee to every 25 clients in care.

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