Muni aims to have winter shelter available next month, but not everyone wants to go

Anchorage aims to have winter shelter available in mid-October but not every camper wants to go
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 3:50 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2023 at 5:30 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Municipality of Anchorage is hoping to have hundreds of temporary beds available for people experiencing homelessness in Alaska’s largest city starting Oct. 16.

The majority of those beds are likely to be in hotel rooms which will sleep two people, according to the city. A larger shelter with a capacity of 150 people in the former Solid Waste Services administrative building may also be in the works.

But not everyone who is currently homeless seems ready to go, according to Jason Cates, Outreach Manager for the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness. Cates said outreach workers have found that responses are about “50-50″ from people surveyed who said they would go into a shelter if offered and others who said they wouldn’t.

“I think the Sullivan [Arena] left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth,” Cates said. “There was a lot of concern with safety issues over there with folks. That’s what we are getting from people on the street — if it’s something like the Sullivan that they don’t want to go.”

Cates said people surveyed were more inclined to say they would accept a hotel room, if offered, even if it’s only for the winter months.

Anchorage Housing and Homeless Coordinator Alexis Johnson said once adequate shelter space is available the city will begin to dismantle homeless camps, first at Third and Inga, then at Chanshtnu Park in Muldoon. Johnson said Cuddy Park would likely be third on the list but only if adequate shelter space is still available.

Cates said people living in the camps are becoming aware the camps will likely be abated. He said the Coalition is working hard to gather contact information so that people can be offered options as they become available.