The Anchorage Assembly said it has a plan to work with the Bronson administration to find a way to shelter the city’s homeless residents.
At a Tuesday meeting, the Assembly passed a resolution to form a group to tackle the city’s looming shelter bed shortage. It would include members of the administration, philanthropists, and the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness.
The group will work with an independent facilitator to make a plan that includes building or buying a structure — or structures — by October 1 to use as a shelter and navigation center.
The Bronson administration did not sign onto the plan and did not respond to a phone or email request for comment Tuesday. Assembly members said administration officials worked with them on the proposal but didn’t include their names on the final resolution.
Assemblymember John Weddleton, who co-sponsored the resolution along with Meg Zaletel and Chris Constant, said despite some public disagreements, the administration and Assembly have been making progress.
“We’re having these broad conversations and bumping into things. And I think it’s actually been pretty good,” he said. “I think we all feel the tension that we need to do something really quickly.”
But whatever they decide, a new shelter likely won’t be operational until well into 2022, because of the time needed for construction or renovation. That means the Sullivan Arena shelter, currently housing 400 Anchorage residents, will stay open unless assembly members and the administration find a different way out of the impasse.
Independent of the new working group, Weddleton said there’d been progress in finding possible shelter buildings to start moving residents out of the Sullivan this fall.
“For the long term, we need to have more capacity there, I think we all know that. But in the short term, maybe there’s a place to rent, maybe there are more hotels or whatever, these things are all being discussed,” he said.
The administration could try to resubmit its previous plan for a massive, 450-person shelter to be built in East Anchorage, but it would have to be approved by the Assembly. Members shot down the proposal at a meeting two weeks ago over growing costs
Weddleton said either way, it’s unlikely the city’s new junior hockey team, the Anchorage Wolverines, will be able to start playing games in the Sullivan by October.