City seeks plan to keep shelter at Sullivan running through 2023

City seeks plan to keep shelter at Sullivan running through 2023
Published: Dec. 27, 2022 at 10:19 PM AKST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2022 at 2:45 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Municipality of Anchorage’s budget for homeless services is stretched thin following increases in the number of homeless residents staying at the Sullivan Arena.

Last Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly voted to increase the Sullivan Arena bed capacity by 160 beds for a total of 360 beds. Since the increase, the municipality’s Homeless Coordinator Alexis Johnson said they have seen every bed filled.

But as the number of Sullivan Arena dwellers increases, so do the number of hungry stomachs. Meal service is provided for those in the arena, but the city says it only has funding to last until January. During the last meeting, the Anchorage Assembly board approved up to a million dollars in funding to be used towards emergency cold sheltering, but it may not be enough.

“We still haven’t found funding all the way through April,” Johnson said.

Right now, the city is working with two main food providers, Henning Incorporated and Little Miss Cafe. Those businesses provide both breakfast and dinner for the clients at the Sullivan Arena. With volunteer donors like Bean’s Cafe and Spenard Roadhouse, drop off lunch snacks during the day. Next year, the city says, they will still be working with Henning to provide meals for the Sullivan Arena.

“The funding is there through the end of the year. That was something was not funded by the assembly into the new year,” Johnson said.

According to an earlier report by Bean’s Cafe, it would cost just $15 a day to provide three meals per person. If all 360 people at the Sullivan were fed using similar pricing, the shelter would only be able to provide 18 days worth of meals for the arena.

For the past three months, Adam Shapsnikoff has been one of those clients who have called the Sullivan Arena home. Each day, he knows he is going to be receiving a meal.

“Who doesn’t like a warm belly?,” Shapsnikoff said. “I bless each one I get.”

The city said they are looking at the budget to see where they could potentially pull funding from to help aid the shelter. One of the options they are looking into is funding from alcohol taxes.

“There are opportunities for us to tap into alcohol tax, but we have to wait till the end of the year close out to see how much in the alcohol tax bucket,” Johnson said.

The funding for these meals, Shapsnikoff said is critical.

“I wouldn’t be getting it from anywhere, man. I would be in a ditch somewhere,” Shapsnikoff said.

Without knowing where those meals will come from in the future, Shapsnikoff has concerns.

“It’s a real concern, where am I going to go after,” Shapsnikoff said.