Across the state, social service providers are already feeling the impact of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetoes.
Juneau’s homeless shelter and soup kitchen is reckoning with an almost 25% reduction to its already-shoestring budget.
Outside the Glory Hall homeless shelter in downtown Juneau, cruise ship passengers shopped for souvenirs along South Franklin Street.
Inside, 30 patrons quietly lined up for breakfast.
On the menu were scrambled eggs and pancakes with a homemade berry glaze — there’s no money for syrup.
“Our shopping list has shrunk because of this, so it’s just — it’s tough,” said Marti Fred, facility coordinator and head chef.
Fred has learned how to get creative with meal planning over the years, using wild game and fish he harvests himself or food donated to the shelter. He also uses produce from a rooftop garden maintained by staff and patrons.
But thrifty solutions can’t make up for the fact that the Glory Hall relies on state funding to provide services like meals and beds for up to 40 people.
The most recent cuts to the Homelessness Assistance Program and Community Initiative Matching Grants Program mean the shelter will have to reduce its hours. The building will close from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., likely starting next month.
That means no breakfast and no lunch.
“I mean, I can take loss of hours, but loss of food and the ability to provide for a lot of the people here is just going to be devastating,” Fred said.
Peter Church was eating breakfast. He said this is his first time being homeless. He also worried the reduced hours will impact nearby businesses, because people like him won’t have anywhere else to go during the day when the Glory Hall is closed.
“There’s times where … I don’t get up to go eat, and I have no place to stay, so I wander around town,” Church said. “I try to stay out of the downtown area to keep the shops, you know, the business owners happy.”
Church relies on occasional meals at the shelter to supplement food stamps.
“I guess it’s time to go and start putting up some fish and smoking fish. That’s the only thing I can do,” he said.
The Glory Hall is looking into ways to bring in additional revenue.
For years, it has flirted with the idea of moving to a new location. The board of directors is trying to raise $300,000 by Sept. 1 for a down payment on a new property in the Mendenhall Valley. The goal would be to build a new shelter there with better facilities, then either rent or sell the building on Franklin Street.