Anchorage prepares for budget cut impacts

On Wednesday, July 24, the mayor of Anchorage declared a short-term civil emergency in anticipation of the impacts from dramatic budget cuts to agencies that shelter the city’s homeless and move them into housing. Two days later, the Anchorage Assembly voted to extend the civil emergency through August 6, and to provide $400,000 to help keep the main homeless shelter in Anchorage at capacity. Subsequently, state legislators have voted to restore some funding, but those efforts are again subject to a veto by the governor, who argues that the state of Alaska must live within its budget.

Homelessness is not a new problem in Anchorage. For years, its seemingly chronic status has drawn intense public scrutiny from residents frustrated by campers in city greenbelts, simmering property crime levels attributed to a criminal element among the homeless, and even fear of fire danger near subdivisions from poorly attended homeless camp fires.

Solving homelessness has proven a slow process. And yet, Lisa Aquino of Catholic Social Services reported to the assembly that about 900 individuals were placed in housing in the past year. Some of those facilities, like Safe Harbor and Clare House, will either close or have restricted hours if the budget cuts hold. The Anchorage Daily News reported how children will be affected, including 80 living with their families in Safe Harbor, and another 50 children, including 12 infants, staying at Clare House.

How do Anchorage leaders prepare for the potential doubling of the homeless population? What powers does the civil emergency allow the mayor? What will mitigations look like?

As always, questions and comments from listeners are welcome throughout the program. Join us.

HOST: Kathleen McCoy

GUESTS:

  • Meg Zaletel, Anchorage Assembly member, co-chair Committee on Homelessness
  • Barry Andres, Clinical Director, Supportive Housing Division, RuralCap
  • Ethan Berkowitz, Mayor, Municipality of Anchorage

LINKS:

  • Mayor declares Civil Emergency in Municipality of Anchorage, Muni website
  • Providers say low-income children, families in Alaska will bear disproportionate weight of Dunleavy vetoes, ADN, Aug. 1, 2019
  • Confused about Alaska’s budget? You’re note alone. Here are 10 things to know. APM, August 1, 2019
  • A Letter to our Alaska Community, Lisa Aquino, Catholic Social Service, ADN, July 17, 2019
  • “We’re gonna be out on the streets”: Anchorage readies for a homeless crisis, APM, July 26, 2019
  • RuralCap’s Safe Harbor, website
  • With Dunleavy budget cuts, a fragile safety net for Alaska’s mentally ill thins further, ADN, Aug. 5, 2019

PARTICIPATE:

  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air)
  • LIVE: Monday, August 5, 2019 at 2:00 p.m
  • REPEAT: Monday, August 5, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.