Assembly demands more aggressive camp clearing in Anchorage

A small homeless camp in the woods near the Chester Creek Trail in Anchorage in 2018. (Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly voted unanimously for the city to move more aggressively as it’s clearing homeless encampments that many say have gotten out of hand since emergency health orders went into effect in March.

At its Tuesday meeting, members agreed to a resolution calling on the mayor’s administration to immediately abate large camps on municipal property. The order cites sprawling encampments downtown around 3rd Avenue and along the Chester Creek Trail.

Residents in the area say there has been increased “drug use, excessive litter, violence and neighborhood vandalism.” And at a time when most residents are heeding the public health emergency orders, the resolution notes many in the camps are not practicing adequate hygiene or social distancing to curb coronavirus spread.

Assembly members are telling the administration to enforce the abatement policies already on the books, and saying that authorities should clear the encampment areas and post notices they are closed to camping. The measure also demands that clean-up efforts start immediately to remove trash, debris, and biological hazards.

The Assembly resolution points out that Anchorage is below its full shelter capacity, meaning there is enough space to accommodate many of the individuals in the encampments. It also calls for social service workers to provide outreach to camp occupants.

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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah

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