Anchorage Assembly members push for Golden Lion as emergency shelter, put limits on Sullivan Arena capacity

Anchorage Assembly Members held a special meeting to put the Anchorage Emergency Shelter Plan into action, following the closure of Centennial Campground
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 6:44 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Assembly members held an emergency meeting Monday, Oct. 3, to put the Anchorage Emergency Shelter Plan into action, following the closure of the Centennial Campground on Saturday.

Members introduced an ordinance to use the Golden Lion Hotel as an emergency shelter, something Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration has argued isn’t legal under current law. The ordinance will be up for public testimony and a possible vote at the assembly meeting scheduled for Oct. 11.

Members did vote on several resolutions at the meeting, including one authored by assembly member Felix Rivera to increase capacity at the Sullivan Arena from 150 to 200 people.

Other members had concerns about the increase. Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant amended the resolution to say the additional capacity would only be allowed if other low barrier shelters were full and if the Sullivan itself was at 90% capacity for at least five days.

“We’ve seen in the past that there are problems associated with high numbers at the Sullivan Arena and we wanted to avoid repeating that situation,” Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said. “It’s a hardship for folks living around the area.”

LaFrance said a forthcoming resolution will also call for more security.

“So there isn’t a repeat of those issues that many residents who live nearby the Sullivan are really, really worried are going to reoccur,” LaFrance said.

Housing and Homeless Coordinator for the Municipality of Anchorage, Alexis Johnson, said 103 people were staying at the Sullivan Arena as of Monday morning. Most, but not all, had come from Centennial Campground.

“It’s been a success thus far,” Johnson said. “I want to continue that energy, and we are going to work towards getting Centennial cleaned up and hopefully housing and sheltering a lot of those people still there.”

Assembly members also voted to lease 50 rooms at the Alex Hotel, but postponed a resolution that would have funded a contractor to help run the facility.

Also on Monday, assembly members and the administration learned one part of the plan was no longer viable. Bean’s café Director Lisa Sauder said they pulled their proposal to provide 40 beds for emergency shelter after learning the municipality would require them to carry an additional $40,000 worth of insurance. Sauder said the beds will be used for sober workforce housing, a program of Bean’s Café.