Homeless navigation center resolution approved at Anchorage Assembly

Things get heated at Anchorage assembly meeting, homeless navigation center resolution discussed and approved.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 10:47 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The proceedings became a little heated Tuesday at the regularly-scheduled Anchorage Assembly meeting between assembly members and people in attendance, but by the end of the night, the assembly passed an amended resolution for a navigation center for the homeless by a 6 to 4 vote.

The discussion on a resolution reappropriating funds and spending roughly $6.2 million on a shelter and navigation center to help address homelessness has been a controversial one in recent weeks. The total appropriation amount was slashed from $8.2 million to $6.2 million by deleting the $2 million in appropriation from the Alaska Community Foundation.

At the last assembly meeting, the size of that shelter was reduced, from a 200-bed capacity to 150 beds. An amendment is also attached to the resolution that requires a commitment from the administration to operate the Golden Lion property as a treatment center as a condition of the appropriation being effective. Some community members in attendance had mixed feelings about this project as well.

“I’m sorry, I might be prejudiced against homeless people because I am not homeless and I’m paying for it,” Fairview resident Juli Lindberg said. “I think we need to keep them down by the tracks, and move them into where the Native hospital used to be. As we move them into our neighborhoods, they are going to just take over.”

Earlier in the meeting, the assembly also passed a resolution supporting the relocation of displaced Ukrainians to Alaska through the Ukraine Relief program. The assembly will also have a special meeting on Friday to talk about taking action on the mayor’s vetoes to the assembly-approved first quarter budget revisions.

The agenda had everything from reappropriating funds to addressing the homelessness issue to helping Ukrainian refugees.

However, the item that raised tempers was an introductory ordinance designed, its author says, to hold public officials accountable. Some feel that the ordinance is directed at Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson.

The ordinance was introduced by Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant. The ordinance has language and 13 provisions in it for which a mayor could be removed from office.

In recent months, Constant and other assembly members have been critical of the mayor, in particular for not following the assembly-approved budget. The introductory ordinance passed, so it will move on to a future public hearing, but assembly members Jamie Allard and Randy Sulte wanted the item to be postponed indefinitely, and some of those in attendance agreed.

“I am appalled that you want to override the decision of 45,937 Anchorage voters, mine included, and would even introduce such an order to remove my mayor,” said Sandy, a public testifier.

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