3 Assembly members announce plan to address housing ‘humanitarian crisis;’ Bronson issues statement

Three Anchorage Assembly members have announced a new plan to address what they call a humanitarian crisis in Anchorage.
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 5:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Three Anchorage Assembly members have announced a new plan to address what they call a humanitarian crisis in Anchorage.

Assembly members Felix Rivera, Kameron Perez-Verdia and Daniel Volland have a five-part plan to address the homelessness situation.

“Ever since the closure of the Sullivan Arena as a COVID-19 response, we truly have had a humanitarian crisis on our streets, in downtown and Midtown and Muldoon. And then, of course, we have the Centennial Park campgrounds that’s been opened up as a homelessness response,” Rivera said.

They would like to spend $500,000 on remodeling and opening 60 rental units immediately. They also want to spend $2 million on emergency shelter needs throughout the rest of the year, plus $1.5 million for outreach services and $3.4 million for the guest house to open 130 units.

The group also wants more than $12 million to buy another hotel.

“The closure of the Sullivan Arena as a COVID-19 mass care congregate facility on June 30, which forced 60 people on the street or into the Centennial Park Campground, has led to what has been widely considered a disaster on the streets of the Municipality of Anchorage,” the three assembly members stated in a news release Thursday. “At the June 29 Special Housing and Homelessness Committee Meeting, the Bronson administration admitted that it does not have a long-term plan to address this crisis and is willing to work with the Assembly.”

A public hearing is set for July 26.

Mayor Dave Bronson released the following statement Thursday evening regarding the plan:

“I am happy the Anchorage Assembly has finally supported adequate funding for my vision to end homelessness. Since day one, homelessness has been a top priority. We have worked with community partners to find solutions in regards to services and permanent housing. This administration has done more in regards to helping to solve homelessness than any administration in the history of the Municipality. To state the administration and our amazing departments in the Municipality did not have a plan is a slap in the face to every single employee who has worked countless hours to help those in need over the past year. From the Anchorage Health Department, Parks and Recreation, Anchorage Police Department, Anchorage Fire Department, and to the members of my immediate staff, the efforts have been compassionate and monumental in making a difference in the lives of so many. These departments continue to successfully connect homeless individuals with services, shelter, and housing that will help them meet their mental health and physical needs.

“I have been advocating for a Homelessness Navigation Center, which I proposed a year ago and would have been complete if members of the Assembly didn’t delay the process. Months prior to the closure of the Sullivan Arena, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) promised and dedicated to move 10 individuals into shelter and supportive housing a day. It is wrong that the ACEH did not complete their obligation to our city’s most vulnerable.

To the media and Assembly who continue to push the narrative that my Administration and the Municipality does not care, or have a plan to help our fellow neighbors in need, please stop being disingenuous. I encourage these Assembly members to actually start working with our community as we have been since day one. This is not an Assembly issue or a Mayor issue, this is an Anchorage issue. Only when we work together with compassion and care will we see lives change for every person who lives in our great city.”

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