Campers confused as deadline looms to leave Centennial
Homeless campers say they haven’t been told where they can go or how to get there
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The city’s deadline to close Centennial Campground has many unhoused campers worried about where they’ll go, and how they’ll get there.
When the Sullivan Arena closed this past June, dozens without permanent housing were moved to the campground, which Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration directed to be repurposed as an emergency spot for homeless campers.
“I offer up my prayers that, you know people open their hearts and open a spot for, you know, for me or for others that really need it,” said one camper who goes by Texas Dave.
Dave, 68, came to the campground with his old pickup camper three weeks ago. He says he’s waiting for veteran’s services to find him a permanent home. He, and many others at the campground, are growing more concerned as the weather gets colder.
“It’s going to be hard this winter, I have a feeling it’s going to be very hard,” said Joseph Link, who has been at the campground for two months.
Link says he left Bethel a year ago to find work in Anchorage, but hasn’t had any luck. Since then, his home has been anywhere he finds a place to sleep.
“I don’t know what I’m, what’s going to happen. I’ll go make a camp someplace if I have to,” Link says. “I live in a tent and, you know, got one sleeping bag and a blanket.”
Link also has a plastic jack-o’-lantern in his tent, something to help keep his spirits up. He says his Yupik family taught him how to survive in the wild but those skills don’t apply to city living. “Texas” Dave says he never planned to become physically disabled or be forced to live the way he does.
“I haven’t been homeless, I’ve never been homeless,” Dave says. “As poor as I think I am, I’m not as poor as others are.”
Dave still has his camper to sleep in, with propane tanks supplying heat and gas for his stove. He questions whether officials will be able to accommodate the rising numbers of homeless people in Anchorage and finds it difficult to remain optimistic about the future.
“We’re broken, we’re a broken nation,” Dave says.
Link questions whether city officials even care about the unhoused.
“You know I’m 50, going on 52 years old, and I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Link says. “If I die, I die. It don’t matter, you know.”
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