Seeking Shelter: Community task force looks at a closed road in Mountain View as potential sanctioned campground

The sanctioned camp proposed for Mountain View is located on a closed strip of Viking Drive between Reeves Boulevard and Commercial Drive
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 8:09 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As past of Alaska’s News Source’s Seeking Shelter series, reporters are taking a closer look into areas where sanctioned camps could be established in order to provide resources and safety to those in tough situations.

There are multiple locations the Sanctioned Camps Community Task Force has identified around Anchorage where they’ll provide some resources such as bathrooms and clean water. They would be a temporary solution until a permanent, low-barrier shelter is established in the city.

Phil Cannon, who is the chair of the Mountain View Community Council, met with task force leader Caroline Storm for the first time on Monday. Together they discussed the proposed Mountain View sanctioned camp at the suggested site of Viking Drive between Reeve Boulevard and Commercial Drive.

“People camp up on the top at the other side of the snow, like along Commercial Drive. So, people are camping wherever there’s woods,” Cannon said to Storm.

Storm explained why the task force chose the location, which is located on a section of Viking Drive that’s already closed.

“This location came up because of its proximity to Mountain View and Commercial Drive, which has a lot of resources,” Storm said. “It’s currently vacant and owned by the municipality. Because Viking Drive doesn’t come through here and it’s already flattened as a roadbed, it was thought of as a very easy and quick setup for a summer-only camp.”

No one was against the Viking Drive sanctioned camp at the last Mountain View Community Council meeting, Cannon said.

“Having multiple sites that are sanctioned and where resources are provided is a far better scenario than free-for-all across the city in the parks, along the trails, where people’s needs aren’t being met,” Cannon said.

No one wants a sanctioned homeless camp in front of their house or business, Cannon said, but solutions have to start happening.

“While I don’t think it’s the perfect solution, I know that our city is in a difficult position — but we’re probably better off if we all contribute,” Cannon said.

The Anchorage Assembly will consider task force recommendations during their regular meeting June 6. A work session has been scheduled for this Friday, June 2.