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Mayor Bronson vetoes funding for homeless housing assistance, citing need for bid process

The move comes as a deadline looms for the city to exit mass care at the Sullivan Arena
Mayor Bronson vetoes funding for homeless housing assistance, citing need for bid process
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 8:35 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly and Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration are at odds again, this time over how federal funding should be awarded for housing assistance as the city transitions away from its mass care strategy for those experiencing homelessness.

After previously issuing a series of vetoes to the assembly’s first quarter budget revisions, Bronson has issued another veto to an assembly approved resolution relating to the mass care exit strategy for rehousing people facing housing insecurity.

In March of 2020 the municipality began providing mass care in response to COVID-19 at the Sullivan Arena and various motels around Anchorage. However, the requirement for vacating the Sullivan Arena is June 30.

With the deadline quickly approaching, the assembly passed a resolution that temporarily suspended competitive procurement rules, and offered a rehousing contract and the use of federal Emergency Rental Assistance Funds to the homeless service provider 99 Plus 1, for roughly $900,000.

99 Plus 1has been operating the mass care 35 operation at the Alex Hotel.

In a statement, Bronson said his reasoning for vetoing the resolution is that the “best course of action” for these funds is to put them out for a competitive bid and select an operator through a traditional procurement means.

“I have no issue with dispersing these funds,” Bronson said in the press release. “I am opposed to such a large amount of tax payer dollars being given out in a sole source contract. This work should be put out for a competitive bid through traditional procurement means.”

Midtown assembly member Felix Rivera, who submitted the resolution to the assembly, said the reasoning and the importance for the resolution is that the process of putting a contract out for bid would cause delays for re-housing people in a timely manner. The Sullivan Arena has to be vacated next month, and the availability of ERA funds expire in September 2022. Rivera said the mayor’s action is “frustrating.”

“Now unfortunately the mayor vetoed it because he wants to go through the normal procurement process, which, you know, is a process that can take an additional two to four weeks,” Rivera said. “The way I see it, we are in a crisis. We have a deadline. We don’t need to play safe, we need to get things done.”

He added that he doesn’t believe the assembly has the votes to override the veto, and the matter will not be taken up at the next regular assembly meeting. Rivera said he has been told the mayor’s office will put out a request for proposals in the next several days.

”There are several providers that could possibly step in and provide the service, but 99 Plus 1 is the one that’s best poised to do the service,” Rivera said. “... If I were a betting man, I would bet that at the end of this RFP process, we might get multiple bids and 99 Plus 1 is going to be the winner of that process.”

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