Facilitators walk away after talks between Anchorage Assembly and mayor’s administration break down

Tom Barrett and Belinda Breaux will no longer serve as facilitators for a group aimed at bridging a path forward for Anchorage’s homeless population.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 9:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Tom Barrett and Belinda Breaux will no longer serve as facilitators for a group aimed at bridging a path forward for Anchorage’s homeless population.

The facilitated group was made up of people from the mayor’s office, the Anchorage Assembly, and their non-profit partners working on solutions for Anchorage’s homeless residents. Barrett and Breaux were brought in last summer to help the assembly and the mayor’s office work together on the issue.

“To solve those kinds of problems, you really need people to be willing to come together in an open, honest and transparent way,” Breaux said. “Willing to problem-solve together, as opposed to negotiating two opposing views.”

Last fall, the group worked on a list of desired outcomes, and in October they came up with a community-focused approach. Throughout the winter Breaux felt things were coming together as the group worked towards its goal of functional zero for Anchorage’s homeless population.

In April, the facilitated group learned that the proposed navigation center on Tudor and Elmore was going to be finished in November, not June.

“I think at that point, the group obviously started to have some concerns around if that schedule is slipping to November,” Breaux said. “How are we going to get out of Sullivan and still be able to meet, you know all of the, kind of the higher ground goals that the group had.”

The group soon struggled to find common ground according to Barrett and Breaux, and that’s when they decided to leave.

“But if we can’t add value to something, then I don’t see the point. You’ve still got this issue,” Barret said. “We want to encourage the assembly and the administration and the funders to work the problem forward. We want the outcome that’s best for the community, but we didn’t think our presence was really assisting it.”

Anchorage assembly member Kameron-Perez Verdia was a part of the group and said he wanted to see more transparency from the mayor’s administration.

“I joined the process about two months ago, and immediately I saw that the mayor and his team were not coming to the table in good faith,” Verdia said. “So it was a challenging process because we were not dealing with all of the information.”

Mayor Dave Bronson’s spokesperson Corey Allen-Young provided Alaska’s News Source with a statement regarding Bronson’s administration’s involvement with the group and addressing homelessness in Anchorage.

“Tom Barrett and Belinda Breaux did an amazing job navigating a difficult task with the facilitated process. While Assembly Member Perez-Verdia disparages the process that he just recently was a part of, he hasn’t been there during the entire time and can not speak with complete knowledge of it. While he talks, the Administration is actually working to get unsheltered people access to shelter and services.”

The Sullivan Arena will close its doors as a mass care homeless shelter on July 1, and after that FEMA will no longer reimburse the municipality for COVID expenses.

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