Neighbors express concern over Assembly homeless housing plan

Neighbors react to shelter plan
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 7:18 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Following the Anchorage Assembly’s passage of an emergency cold weather shelter plan Monday, including the use of the Sullivan arena and Golden Lion Hotel to shelter homeless individuals, some people who live in those areas are worried about what may be next.

Virginia Lonser, a longtime resident of the Geneva Woods subdivision which lies adjacent to the Golden Lion Hotel, spoke of concerns about property values dropping, high foot traffic, and possible trespassing.

While most want to help the homeless, Lonser said many believe the Assembly-approved plan will create more problems in their neighborhoods, with a primary concern being what children may be exposed to.

“I anticipate that we’re going to see public drunkenness and public exposure and stuff that I don’t really — I’m not looking forward for our granddaughters having to cope with that, I don’t even want to cope with that,” Lonser said.

Carol Valdez is the owner of an assisted living home in Geneva Woods. She says the homeless population in the area has grown over the past two years, and she expects more of that if the Assembly’s plan sticks.

“I’m concerned if we get people who are violent and agitated, roaming around our street, especially for an assisted living home where you take care of people who are fragile and elderly,” Valdez said.

She also thinks using the shelter is a quick fix, not a long-term solution.

“I wish our local government can find ways to help our homeless population because I don’t want them to freeze in the streets and die from hypothermia,” Valdez said.

Gillian Tribble, a Fairview resident who lives just half a block away from the Sullivan arena, says the problems are multi-layered.

“Vandalism, we have people sleeping everywhere,” Tribble said. “... they are tagging — I guess that’s what they call it, when they’re spraypainting things — things are being stolen, you have to tie everything down.”

Mayor Dave Bronson has not indicated whether or not he will veto the Assembly’s plan. The Assembly could also override his veto if he moves forward with one.

Although his office didn’t provide any update Tuesday, a spokesperson told Alaska’s News Source that the mayor is willing to work with the Assembly to find a solution before winter is officially here.

“My administration will perform all the necessary internal due diligence associated with the proposed plan,” Bronson’s statement said. “If the plan is determined to be an effective method for emergency cold weather sheltering, we will work with the Assembly on developing the appropriation.”