Without shelter, city can’t abate homeless camps

Without shelter, city can’t abate homeless camps
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 6:17 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The closure of the Sullivan Arena to all but 90 people on Monday means many more are spending their nights outside. Tent camps are popping up all over town — but the city says there’s not a lot it can do to prevent that or make people move.

Mike Braniff, head of Anchorage Parks and Recreation, said city crews will still clean up around homeless camps but they won’t be abating them. Without available shelter, they can’t legally make people move, even from public spaces like city parks.

“Folks won’t be asked to leave because there’s not shelter space, which is one of the abatement requirements,” said Braniff. “Instead, we’re visiting the camps and cleaning in and around folks.”

At a cluster of tents around Cuddy Park on Tuesday, city crews handed out plastic bags and removed garbage and other items identified by campers as needing to go. Braniff said the plan is to do clean-up work at larger sites at least twice a week. He said discussions are ongoing as to whether the city would provide porta-potties and dumpsters. He said it’s likely that crews won’t be able to get to every camp, but he urged people to continue reporting them on the city website.

“We understand that in many cases they will report them and it doesn’t mean that the camp will be cleaned or moved out, but the data helps,” said Braniff. “There are more folks than ever this summer that are going to be on the street and in public places and in parks, and that data helps, so please continue to report.”