As Alaska opens up, mass shelters begin to close

Published: May. 24, 2020 at 10:26 PM AKDT
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As Alaska opens up, some of the mass homeless shelters created at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic are beginning to close. The municipality of Anchorage’s contract for the mass shelters at the Ben Boeke and Sullivan areas are set to end in July, but according to Chris Schutte, director of the Department of Economic and Community Development, the city is looking to close the Ben Boeke a bit sooner.

“We will begin demobilizing the Boeke Ice Arena on June 1,” Schutte said in an Assembly Committee on Homelessness meeting Wednesday.

Alongside the Boeke, Shutte said the city plans on beginning to take down the isolation area at the Dempsey-Anderson arena the same day, followed by a cleaning of both facilities. But while they’re closing down, many of their resources will be moved to the Sullivan Arena.

“We are in the process now of consolidating all of those beds into just the Sullivan Arena,” Schutte said.

Schutte added that the contract for the Sullivan is being modified as well.

“We are working on an amendment to their contract right now to reduce the number [of beds],” said Real Estate Department Director Robin Ward at the Wednesday meeting. “We think it’s going to be a maximum of 324.”

In addition to less beds, the contract for the Sullivan will be extended past its July deadline. Schutte said the city is still nailing down an exact date.

At the committee meeting, officials cited declining numbers at the shelter, not uncommon for the Summertime, as the reason for the consolidation.

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