Anchorage’s mayoral candidates weigh in on homelessness

Mayor Dave Bronson, Chris Tuck and Suzanne LaFrance comment
Anchorage’s mayoral candidates weigh in on homelessness. Mayor Dave Bronson, Chris Tuck and Suzanne LaFrance comment.
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 5:06 PM AKDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2023 at 6:38 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - There are now three people running for the role of Anchorage mayor and they have all weighed in on the problems surrounding the issue of homelessness.

It’s safe to say that Anchorage’s homeless problem isn’t getting much better — and the city’s top executive tends to agree.

“It’s the single biggest problem that we’re hearing about from the public, by far right now,” Mayor Dave Bronson said.

So what, if anything, would those running to be the next mayor do to address the situation?

“Well, one of the things is we need to make sure the community’s involved,” former state Rep. Chris Tuck said.

Tuck, a democrat, says Alaskans need to focus on the root causes of homelessness and housing.

“We need to have more treatment centers here in Anchorage so they can be productive members of society,” Tuck said. “But we also have to have affordable housing.”

For now, Bronson is hoping the Assembly will approve construction on the navigation center on Elmore and Tudor Streets in order to be ready before winter.

“The contention is the shelter nav center, we’re still working on that,” Bronson said. “We’ve got to have a place for people to go when it’s cold and when it’s not cold, like right now.”

“If we had a large shelter we then could abate all the camps and there’d be — we wouldn’t be having these conversations about Cuddy Park and Third and Ingra and that.”

Tuck thinks the Northway Mall may provide the necessary space for both sanctioned camps and a low-barrier shelter.

“Then you could take the parking lot and make that covered, covered tent housing so people could get into the Northway Mall,” Tuck said. “Then having a fence all the way around that, that way it’s protected against those who want to take advantage of the homeless.”

Suzanne LaFrance, the former Anchorage Assembly Chair, shared her sentiments in an emailed statement.

“The current administration has failed to bring good ideas to the table, build consensus with stakeholders, or implement real solutions,” LaFrance said. “We need collaboration and respect throughout the entire process, which is not what we’ve experienced for the past two years. Instead, plans developed by previous administrations were cast aside and a muni-owned hotel was allowed to sit empty for two years.

“There’s no reason everyone can’t make a good faith effort to work towards solutions, and that’s exactly what I intend to do when elected.”

Bronson’s office also submitted a written statement, called the Tudor Road and Elmore Road Navigation Center and Shelter an “important step forward” in addressing homelessness in Anchorage.

“If constructed, this new facility will provide at least 150 beds for people experiencing homelessness, as well as case management, job training, and other supportive services,” Bronson said. “However, it is just one piece of a larger puzzle.”