The cold weather descending on much of the state is having an impact on social services. A soup kitchen in Anchorage is staying open around the clock to provide shelter from dangerously frigid temperatures.
Lisa Sauder is the executive director of Bean’s Cafe, and said — that at the request of the city and Anchorage’s United Way — the organization will remain open 24 hours-a-day during the coming cold snap.
“It really is quite a departure for us because we’ve really always been more of a soup-kitchen, day-shelter and a place to go with referrals for services,” Sauder said.
In December, the non-profit started providing overnight shelter to 50 men. It has since increased the maximum capacity to 75.
Sauder said the provisions come as shelters in Anchorage are already stretched to a breaking point, and have had to turn people away.
“The other shelters right now are at maximum capacity,” Sauder said. “Something needed to be done. We wanted to make sure that no one would go un-sheltered who was seeking shelter.”
Since this summer, social service providers have warned of a chronic shortage of shelter space.
In testimony before the Anchorage Assembly, providers have said the issue is driven by an uptick in people living on city streets and a change in municipal policy pushing people out of homeless camps and toward social services.