Emergency task force recommends new shelter locations

Golden Lion, Dempsey-Anderson Ice Arena identified as possibilities
In a preliminary report released Friday, Anchorage’s Emergency Shelter Task Force narrowed down future shelter locations to two preferred options.
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:57 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In a preliminary report released Friday, Anchorage’s Emergency Shelter Task Force narrowed down future shelter locations to two preferred options that members feel will be the least disruptive to the community and can be occupied quickly.

One option is the former Golden Lion Hotel at the intersection of 36th Avenue and the Seward Highway. The report notes the facility already has 85 furnished units, and that the space could be doubled if rooms are shared.

The second option is the Dempsey-Anderson Ice Arena on West Northern Lights Boulevard. The report says the arena could hold between 240 and 260 people if used as an emergency shelter.

But the shelter plan is already getting pushback from members of the hockey community. Darryl Thompson, President of the Alaska State Hockey Association, said people won’t support it, particularly because the Sullivan Arena is still not available for them to use.

“So for right now they’re saying, let’s again decimate the ice skating community and utilize that as a solution to a long-term problem. That’s not the solution,” Thompson said. “All it’s going to do create a problem for all the user groups.”

Jeannie Carey, President of the Anchorage Hockey Association, said the ice facility serves an important role in the community.

“The Anchorage Hockey Association understands that the Municipality needs more low barrier homeless beds this winter for the safety of our citizens,” Carey said through a statement. “We also believe that municipal facilities like the Spenard Rec Center and the Dempsey-Anderson Ice Rink are essential for the health and connectedness in our community. There are options to meet both needs and we strongly urge both the Assembly and the Mayor’s office to work together productively and quickly to find and implement those options”

Along with using the two facilities as emergency shelters, the report also recommends the city offer funding to existing providers so they can increase bed space, including the Brother Francis Shelter, Bean’s Café, and Covenant House. The report said additional space may be available at other locations but not for at least 90 days.

The recommendations will be considered by both the Assembly and the mayor’s administration, which will ultimately decide where emergency shelters should be placed.

Mayor Dave Bronson’s spokesman Corey Allen Young sent a short comment on today’s report via email:

“The administration looks forward to a public meeting where the task force’s recommendations as directed by the Anchorage Assembly is vetted out,” Allen wrote. “The administration will listen to the public on the Anchorage Assembly’s Taskforce before making decisions.”