With cold temperatures right around the corner, Anchorage’s main homeless shelter is reviving a former time limit rule.
After 30 days Brother Francis Shelter will make people leave for another 30 if they have not complied with shelter rules.
Ellen Krsnak is a spokesperson for Brother Francis Shelter. She says there are simply too many people using the shelter as a residence.
“The 30-day-in-30-day-out policy acknowledges that the shelter is an emergency shelter not intended as a long-term residence,” Krsnak said. “We’re encouraging people to move on to permanent housing.”
“We are a safety net, and the idea that we are there for them for 30 days in an emergency situations.”
Brother Francis Shelter is located near downtown.
Krsnak says the policy actually dates back to 1993, but the shelter lifted it in early 2012 when the municipality raised the temperature at which shelters could take in the homeless from 32 to 45 degrees.
Since then, Krsnak says they’ve been operating at capacity and there have been increasing problems with security.
People staying at the shelter can get an extension to stay beyond 30 days, Krsnak says, but they must be working on a plan to get permanent housing.
“They need to meet with a case manager and follow a guide, a housing guide for a permanent housing,” she said. “Part of that is employment, it may be treatment.”
“What do they need to do to overcome whatever those barriers are to get into permanent housing.”
The municipality raised the temperature limit and Brother Francis lifted the 30-day-in-30-day-out policy back in 2012 to prevent outdoor deaths. Krsnak says shelter officials have held two “town halls” to let people know about the new rules.
“We want people to be safe; we want people to be warm, but we also want them to look at Brother Francis as an emergency shelter as its intention,” she said. “But again we have to have some way to move forward with a permanent housing plan.”
Krsnak says Brother Francis Shelter has increased case management hours and is allowing drop-in appointments to help residents find permanent housing.
A town hall about the 30-day-in-30-day-out policy is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Beans Cafe.