Assembly homeless shelter plan includes a smaller number of beds at locations around Anchorage

The Anchorage Assembly's homeless shelter plan includes space scattered at sites around town
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:36 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly’s plan to provide emergency shelter this winter includes big spaces like the Sullivan Arena and the former Golden Lion Hotel, but also relies on adding a smaller number of beds to provide shelter for the estimated 350 people who will need it.

Bean’s Café is in the process of purchasing a building in midtown that Director Lisa Sauder said will be used to house single men.

“We can accommodate up to 40 people with the full spectrum of services, which will include a full-time navigator dedicated to that site, three meals a day, access to coin-operated laundry, showers, bathrooms, you know it’s a facility we have possession of and it’s turnkey and ready to go,” Sauder said.

Sauder said the building won’t be a walk-up shelter, rather guests will be admitted by referral, and a live-in manager will be on site. She wouldn’t identify exactly where the shelter will be located, saying she would leave that up to the Coalition to End Homelessness. Sauder did say the building is a former hostel near 36th Avenue and C Street, and that she doubted there would be much of an impact on the neighborhood.

“It’s a new-ish use for the site,” said Sauder. “But certainly, this has been, since COVID started, a place where people that are on the edge have been staying, and there’s been minimal to no problems.”

Another part of the plan includes increasing capacity at the Brother Francis Shelter. The emergency plan is counting on space for an additional 20 people, but Catholic Social Services Spokesperson Molly Cornish said the shelter has increased bed space in recent months by 40 and will be able to accommodate a maximum of 120 guests.

It’s a far cry from when the shelter slept 240 people pre-COVID. Cornish said they’ve seen benefits from keeping numbers low.

“The campus is a lot easier to keep cleaned up, and folks are staying inside, and we are just seeing better outcomes,” Cornish said. “People are able to really connect with our staff because we have more staff available, and really work on their path to permanent stability.”

Covenant House in downtown Anchorage is also in the plan to provide shelter space on Oct. 31 for 25 young adults.

Anchorage Assembly members will vote on the plan Monday, Sept. 26, in a special meeting that runs from 6-8 p.m. in the Assembly chambers in the Loussac Library. The meeting is open to the public, which will be able to voice concerns before the vote. The Assembly is offering another opportunity for people to weigh in on the plan on Sunday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m., also in the Loussac Library.