Bronson administration talks Centennial Campground with assembly committee on homelessness
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly and Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration continue to debate how to help the homeless residents of Anchorage.
The assembly committee on housing and homelessness met with members of the mayor’s administration to talk about what the assembly members are calling a “humanitarian crisis.”
Wednesday’s meeting discussed the draft of the housing and urban development action plan, along with an update on the navigation center — but it was the Centennial Campground drawing the most questions from assembly members.
“What’s your plan for getting people out of the centennial campgrounds?” assembly member Forrest Dunbar asked. “How long is it going to take.”
Mayor Bronson’s Chief of Staff Alexis Johnson noted that the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness requested the city cease operations by the end of September.
“Mister Dunbar, as of right now, we are exploring winter sheltering options,” Johnson said. “We do not have plans to keep people at Centennial or to allow people to camp through winter.”
This week, the Salvation Army took over homelessness management at Centennial Park. Johnson said the nonprofit approached the city to take over management and is not receiving funding from the municipality.
During the meeting, assembly member Dunbar also asked the Bronson administration why it kept on insisting the park was not part of the city’s homelessness response.
“Is there some legal reason the administration keeps putting forward this obvious fiction that it is not a part of our homelessness response?” Dunbar said.
“Mister Dunbar, I don’t believe it’s a lie,” Johnson responded. “We have just waived the fee at the campground.”
Anchorage Parks and Recreation Director Mike Braniff also spoke at the meeting and gave an update on what is happening at the campground. On the same day a fifth bear was killed in Centennial Park, Braniff said they received 130 bear-proof containers for the site.
“Our staff makes regular rounds every hour on the hour to clean up food-related trash and observe how individuals are storing their food,” Braniff said.
He also reported that roughly 180 people are staying at the campsite, and said they based that on the number of meals being served by Beans Cafe.
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