Anchorage Assembly looking to appropriate $800K for preliminary design of navigation center

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 8:35 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A plan is in the works to build a navigation center in Anchorage for people experiencing homelessness that will be able to fit 200 people, with a surge capacity of 130 more if necessary. Before it can be built, Anchorage Assembly member Felix Rivera said it has to be designed.

“Basically we’re at a decision point to appropriate $800,000 for design for the navigation center/ shelter being built at Tudor and Elmore,” Rivera said.

The total allocated funding for this design is $2.8 million, but Rivera said that could change after the design is finished. Currently, a contract is being negotiated with a successful bidder for the project.

“The idea is there’s going to be a bunch of services here, a bunch of agencies, that are gonna have a home in the navigation center,” Rivera said. “We connect people to services and things that they need in hopes to really make it easier for folks to get back on their feet, get housing, you know whatever their next step is, to help make it easier for folks to do that.”

The navigation center is part of a larger plan to transition people out of the emergency shelter at the Sullivan Arena. The assembly previously set aside money for a new homeless shelter as well as the purchase of buildings to turn into smaller shelters that will serve specific populations.

The combination of a navigation center, smaller shelters for people with specific needs and already existing shelters run by independent organizations is meant to help people be able to leave the Sullivan Arena — what the city has called an “exit strategy.”

City leaders were looking to use the Barratt Inn on Spenard Road for workforce and permanent supportive housing, but that decision is now. Rivera cited a need for additional information and about the cost and time for renovations.

“Through the due diligence process, you know, it’s been found that some of the things might be a little bit more expensive for the Barratt Inn so thankfully you know we do have a plan b, plan c,” Rivera said. “So we’re looking, we’re going down that and looking at other potential locations to see if they might be more suitable.”

Other parts of the exit plan include:

  • The Sockeye Inn, for complex care, purchase is looking to close by the end of the month and be operated by Catholic Social Services.
  • A special populations shelter location for the elderly, women, and LGBTQ has yet to be identified.
  • Efforts are underway with the Salvation Army to open up 68 substance abuse treatment beds.

The assembly will be holding a public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 15 at the Loussac Library over the appropriations request of $800,000.

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