The Anchorage Assembly meeting on Tuesday evening ended without a decision on the city’s plan to purchase four properties for treatment and homelessness resource facilities.
Public testimony on the topic lasted nearly three hours, until the meeting ended at 11 p.m. The Assembly will continue with the remaining public testimony at another meeting on Wednesday before they hold a vote.
The city’s plan is to purchase the Midtown Alaska Club, America Best Value Inn & Suites in Spenard, the Best Western Golden Lion located in Midtown and Bean’s Cafe in downtown. Together, they would provide transitional housing, daytime care, life-skills counseling and other support services. A treatment facility at the Golden Lion would offer substance misuse help for all residents, not just those experiencing homelessness.
While the city has advocated for spreading homelessness resources throughout Anchorage, instead of concentrating them in downtown, some residents have voiced concerns about proposed locations.
The majority of people testifying at Tuesday’s meeting opposed the plan. They raised fears about increased crime and foot traffic, and lowering property values, particularly in Midtown. Many argued that not enough planning and community input had gone into the proposal.
The Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and the Berkowitz Administration have said the new facilities would meet the needs of the city’s homeless population and would help to get people out of the shelter system. ACEH Director Jasmine Boyle says with the right design and operation, homelessness care facilities wouldn’t have any negative impact on the community.
The Assembly is also in the process of working out a separate zoning ordinance that would expand the areas homeless shelters could occupy while requiring public input and planning and zoning oversight.