Assembly task force selects sanctioned campsites for immediate homeless needs

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Published: May. 23, 2023 at 8:42 AM AKDT|Updated: May. 23, 2023 at 5:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A group designated by the Anchorage Assembly to find suitable locations for sanctioned homeless camps this summer has targeted five locations around town.

Anchorage’s Sanctioned Camps Community Task Force met Monday to adjust recommendations it has set for the Anchorage Assembly and Municipal Administration for consideration.

It’s all meant to address immediate needs of the homeless in the city and will be laid on the table at Tuesday’s Assembly meeting.

The resolution features recommendations as the task force is putting a formal plan for sanctioned camps forward and hopes to help address the need for finding emergency shelter as quickly as possible. Find more at Alaska’s News Source.

“Camps are happening right now, and we’re trying to get ahead of those being more established, more problems coming out of some of the unsanctioned camping areas,” said Caroline Storm, a member of the Sanctioned Camps Community Task Force. “Plus the Sullivan is closing to the last 90 residents on May 31, and we wanted to ensure there was a place for those people to go if they choose.”

A big concern for many is the especially vulnerable population that’s still staying at the Sullivan Arena.

Over the weekend, the task force says it selected a number of sites to seriously consider going over pros and cons of each.

“I don’t want to say, ‘Let’s just take Centennial off the table,’ but I don’t think Centennial is really safe for a mixed population either,” said one member.

“Even with a small population, if someone wanted to get in there, they easily could, particularly in the evening and night,” another member added.

Many members were worried about the safety of women and children in the homeless population.

After extensive deliberation, the recommended sites include:

  • Vacant land that was formerly Viking Drive from Reeve Boulevard and Commercial Drive
  • Municipal-owned land on West End Road, near Ted Steven Anchorage International Airport
  • The National Archives site at East 40th Avenue and Denali Street
  • Centennial Park Campground in Northeast Anchorage
  • A location on Academy Drive, off Abbott Road

The five locations would all house anywhere between 20 to 75 residents and would be open from dates ranging from May 31 to Sept. 4 this year.

The task force says each site will allow for a specific capacity, structure, population, and model of shelter. Each proposal also includes opening and closing dates.

“We’re just trying to get through this first recommendation of addressing security, sanitation, and sites to mitigate the unsanctioned camping that’s happening right now,” Storm said.

The decisions for the recommendations were not easy, according to the task force, and took a lot of debate to decide what areas of Anchorage should be used.

One consensus was the idea of spreading the sanctioned camps across different districts, instead of consolidating them in one area. The task force said this would be with the goal of helping at least some of the hundreds of unsheltered people currently in Anchorage.

“With just the muni-owned locations, it seems we did not have enough space to be able to provide options to people,” Storm said.

The majority of the options for locations being put forth are municipal properties, although the task force is also considering asking private property owners if they would consider sanctioned camps on their properties.

The resolution with the recommendations by the group will be laid on the table Tuesday and is expected to be voted on at the Assembly meeting.

Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that one site is on municipal-owned land near the Clitheroe Center on West End Road and not at the center itself.