The ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET
The city’s growing problem with the “homeless” at Third Avenue and Ingra Street is ugly – and getting uglier.
One can only wonder what will happen when summer arrives and city-provided shelters for the homeless at the Ben Boeke Ice and Sullivan arenas are abandoned for camps across Anchorage. What will happen when those people again take to the woods?
Already a sizable number of them, some of them alreacy kicked out of other city shelters, are roaming the streets, and many are living in a tent camp at the site of the former Alaska Native Service Hospital, much to the chagrin of nearby neighbors, who complain of the drugs, illicit activity and alcohol.
The camp’s occupants, many of them impaired or mentally ill, openly are ignoring, even challenging, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s hunker down orders in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rob Cupples, a longtime resident of the area, tells MustReadAlaska.com things are as bad as he ever has seen them in the area and the camp only continues to grow.
“With this growth has come a substantial increase in garbage on our streets, partying, loitering on our private properties, and an increase in mob mentality due to the lack of community presence under the hunker down order,” he says. “The occupants of the camps have demonstrated aggression on multiple occasions to members of this community including aggressively chasing an ADN photographer from the area who reported to me personally being very fearful just last week.”
Such open disregard for the law to the detriment of the law-abiding presents a thorny problem for the Berkowitz administration, which already is spending millions on the homeless only to have the problem worsen. Do you enforce the law or turn a blind eye?
Something must be done. We wish we had an answer, a magic solution. We do not. It is a complex problem that puts individual rights at odds with the law and what is best for the community.
Only one thing is certain: As time goes on, and when the weather gets better, the problem only will get worse.