Anchorage Assembly passes ‘clean slate’ proposal with amendments

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 9:20 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The proposal to create a path forward for the Anchorage Assembly and Mayor Dave Bronson to find the best shelter locations was passed Tuesday night with some changes.

April 30 is the day some shelters around the city — including the 360-bed Sullivan Arena — will start to close down, placing Bronson and the Anchorage Assembly under pressure to find a solution.

The two sides also want to find a solution and get a year-round, low-barrier shelter operating by Nov. 1.

The resolution introduced by Midtown representative Felix Rivera late last week proposes a “clean slate” in regards to establishing a new year-round, low-barrier shelter. It passed 10-2 late Tuesday night with some amendments.

One of the amendments specifically prohibits the Assembly from deciding on any location of a year-round homeless shelter until “all other areas of the Anchorage Bowl” are recommended.

The other amendment requires criteria will be developed for interactions between shelters, surrounding neighborhoods and other institutions.

“I would not put this resolution forward if it was not the best way to meet the goal of setting up a new permanent low-barrier shelter by Nov. 1, 2023,” Rivera said.

The laid-on-the-table item by Rivera was what he called his “clean slate proposal.” Part of the original resolution included taking controversial locations such as the Arctic Rec Center and the Navigation Center on Tudor Road off the list of locations up for consideration as low-barrier shelters.

The amendments made Tuesday night keep those shelter options on the table.

“I don’t want to eliminate from the conversation the possibility of coming up with a workable solution at that location,” Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant said.

In a strange turn of events, Bronson and Constant agreed on the matter.

“I think this is what’s best for the Fairview area,” Bronson said. “I think it’s the least worst, and I think we can get to some success here.”

Bronson disapproved of Rivera’s proposal and believes both should at least be “considered,” adding that it appears very problematic.

“It just seems coincidental that they want to do this now and Felix wants to start over and start from zero,” Bronson said.

“It is about achieving the goal, and for me, that means putting some ideas behind us, even ideas I might still have excitement for,” Rivera said.

Bronson supports the Navigation Center but does not like the location of the Arctic Rec Center and said he still wants to hear from the people.

A town hall on the plan to potentially purchase and turn the recreation center into a homeless shelter is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the facility’s gym.