Anchorage Assembly admits its Golden Lion Hotel plans would have been illegal, now wants it run as a flophouse


The Anchorage Assembly is attempting a more legal method of getting homeless people into the Golden Lion hotel property at the corner of New Seward Highway and 36th Avenue.

The Assembly majority, which had illegally designated the property for homeless emergency shelter, has conceded it can’t legally be used for that.

The hotel was put under city ownership by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who was going to put drug addicts in it. That caused a neighborhood uproar, including objections from operators of a nearby Jewish preschool.

Now, it appears destined to become an old-fashioned flophouse until the Assembly can figure out how to use it for a drug treatment center. The Guest House is being run as workforce housing, under the negotiated agreement between the Mayor’s Office and the Assembly, but is not property owned by the municipality; it has been transferred to ownership by First Presbyterian LLC. The Rasmuson Foundation has money from the Assembly to purchase of old Barrett Inn in Spenard, for a similar use, under the negotiated agreement. With the Golden Lion, however, the fact that the city owns it causes different complications.

The Assembly majority put its new plans on Tuesday’s agenda as a surprise “laid on the table” item. Those items are supposed to be for emergencies, but the Assembly uses them to spring actions on an unsuspecting public that may have checked the Assembly’s agenda and didn’t find anything controversial. Without sitting through the meeting, the public would never know. “Laid on the table” items are now used a way to subvert the public process.

The Assembly now says that the municipality can get a third-party contractor and then charge rent for the tenants, for some nominal portion, on a month-to-month basis. The contractor would execute rental agreements with individual tenants for most of the units that formerly served as hotel rooms. “Rental agreements can be month-to-month or for 1 year, whichever maximizes access to availably types of rental assistance and is feasible during the duration the property is leased to the contract operator,” the Assembly wrote in its resolution.

“It is anticipated that rental costs will largely covered by rents made up from federal emergency rental assistance funds and other available types of rental assistance. Persons renting a single housing unit will be required to certify that one or more prospective tenants within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship during or due, directly or indirectly, to the coronavirus pandemic; one or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and the household is a low-income family,” is qualified as such under federal guidelines, the Assembly majority wrote.

Under the Assembly majority’s latest idea, the contract operator would not offer services that would qualify the facility as a transitional living facility or drug rehabilitation care facility, as defined by the federal government. None of the units has cooking facilities, nor would those be added to the hotel rooms, but the contract operator could provide dining services. There used to be a cafe in the building.

Further, according to the Assembly’s newest idea, no retail or wholesale sales would be able to be on site, nor any storage or display of merchandise, such as snack or candy machines.

Tenants would have to pay with an emergency housing voucher or other housing voucher that would cover the rental amount, or have the ability to pay the fee for the room without such assistance.

Regardless of payment type, the tenants could not have incomes exceeding 30% of the area median income.

The Assembly on Tuesday directed the mayor to provide details by Nov. 1 about how the Golden Lion will be used as housing, and to provide a written report to the Assembly by Nov. 4, which would outline any code-imposed impediments to putting the hotel into service as housing.

During the same meeting, the Assembly, on a vote of 9-3, chose to end its agreement with the mayor on the navigation center that has been under construction on Tudor Road. That center was part of the negotiated plan that the Assembly approved and partially funded last April.


  1. Even to homeless won’t bum for bucks on that busy intersection. They’re smarter than the majority of the assembly.

  2. My Guess is the third party with be the MASH LLC run by Mark Begich and Sheldon Fisher. That’s who is running the other two vagrant hotel for profits.
    Curious if anyone is looking into how the money runs from the Anchorage Assembly into the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness to Begich. Shady AF if i must say so

  3. Only the Democrats can think up ways to reward the most non-productive members of society with public money earned by society’s best producers.

    • No it is not. Also the “circus tent” was and is not meant to house these inebriates. It’s purpose is to give them a temporary station to attain the help and services they need to become useful members of society. If they want it.
      I know that to Democrats like you that is a foreign concept, you know fixing a problem instead of throwing money at it for eternity. The moldy lion is a financial burden that will continue to drain funds and deteriorate into a slum embarrassment sic The Mush Inn. I would like to hear your ideas on “cost effectiveness” especially considering the remodeling and security upgrades that will have to be done to that taj mahal of bums.

  4. I informally interviewed many Centennial Park campground “residents” after the Muni closed that site. I believe I gathered more and better data than the self-righteous Anchorage assembly majority that claims to be individual and collective experts in resolving the situation. Ain’t that so, Meg?

    The individuals remaining at that campground and with whom I spoke generally told me the same things:

    1) They do not want to go to a shelter. They will not move into any of Mark Begich’s hotels, the Guest House, or the Golden Lion. Instead, they said, they will find different places to camp outdoors.

    2) Some people refuse to go to a shelter because they do not want to follow the rules required for people who stay at shelters.

    3) Some want to return “home” to Washington, California, Texas, Washington, DC, etc. All they need for this is airfare AND AN ID for use at the airport. If given airfare and an ID many said they’d be on their way Outside.

    4) The sister of one man (he did not have a phone so he gave me his sister’s number) told me that she previously paid for her brother to rent an apartment in the area. He trashed it, she said, because he is a “drug addict”, behaves irresponsibly, and does not tell the truth. She told me that my efforts to help her brother would be a waste of time. She said she has done everything possible for him to get out of his current lifestyle and he continues to prefer to camp out with others who have the same unproductive lifestyles and stay “high”.

    5) The guy from Bethel, who is frequently shown in KTUU commercials using the “same old tape”, wants to go home to Bethel. The sad story KTUU prefers to replay and replay and replay tells only a partial truth. As usual KTUU leaves out the most important details and updates; the station does not pursue accurate and up-to-date actual journalism.

    6) One man brought out from his tent a large-economy size bottle of whiskey while I interviewed him. Between swigs, he told me he has the money to buy it and that’s how he chooses to spend his money. A couple of other men appeared to be totally “stoned”.

    7) Two women instructed me to get all the paperwork necessary for them to get subsidized housing and to deliver it to them. They also demanded that I provide them with large totes into which they could put their belongings. It appeared to me that they refused to do anything for themselves. Of course, I declined.

    • “…….Some want to return “home” to Washington, California, Texas, Washington, DC, etc. All they need for this is airfare AND AN ID for use at the airport. If given airfare and an ID many said they’d be on their way Outside………”
      Handing out ID without vetting cannot possibly be legal or wise. Indeed, current law provides the authorities the legal duty to detain anybody who cannot prove their identity until said identity can be ascertained. Thus, their housing problem is solved;
      They promptly go to jail.

  5. Same questions as before…..
    Will there be room service?
    Premium cable, including porn?
    Laundry service?
    Valet parking?
    Direct access to Assembly members if none of above are provided?
    Otherwise, let’s try the Sheraton.

  6. “…….The hotel was put under city ownership by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who was going to put drug addicts in it. That caused a neighborhood uproar, including objections from operators of a nearby Jewish preschool…….”
    I don’t think that to plan to put drug addicts in it was the problem.The problem is that the plan was to allow the drug addicts to come and go at will to wander the local streets and cause trouble. The state already operates a minimum security facility/farm in the Point McKenzie area that has LOTS of room for the construction of barracks…….hundreds of acres. There are no liquor stores for miles and few homes in the area that will issue the NIMBY cry, especially since the facility already exists. The Goose Bay prison is just a few miles away, demonstrating that official transportation to the area is already occurring and common. This facility is large enough to provide temporary shelter as well as substance abuse assistance. All that is necessary is (first) a tiny bit of ideological cooperation, and (second) a redirection of the currently wasted funding that is being used to buy top dollar real estate in Anchorage and pie-in-the-sky ideological fantasies that will simply not help.

  7. Since it has become a homeless housing project What they need to propose for ALL the tenants is that any alcohol is forbidden. I lived 5 yrs downtown in a similar place that is like the place is proposed to be, but that had NO ALCOHOL allowed. What they need to propose in ALL/ANY of these housing units, is that alcohal is forbidden INSIDE for ANY REASON.

  8. Seems interesting that the flop house was transferred to First Presbyterian LLC ownership and the Barrett was transferred to Rasmuson Foundation.
    Under this Assembly’s rule, it seems reasonable to expect both properties will become financial black holes into which this and future Assemblies will pour increasing amounts of tax money to benefit First Presbyterian LLC and Rasmuson Foundation.
    In other words, nothing prevents productive Anchorage residents from being taxed indefinitely, without their consent, just to support the “non-profit” First Presbyterian LLC and Rasmuson Foundation.
    Why not? The character of this Assembly suggests they’d do this only if something was in it for them, kickback, payment-in-kind, something taxpayers won’t know about until it’s a done deal.
    More importantly, under this Assembly’s rule, it seems reasonable to expect both properties to be used as physical addresses for registering hundreds of new voters in Anchorage’s easily corruptible mail-in ballot system, helping them vote correctly, helping out by mailing their ballots for them.
    No? Who’ll check? Who’s in a position to verify such corruption can’t or won’t happen?

  9. Got an idea; open up the bar in the building and it will pay the bill. These people are not broke, just “homeless’.

  10. We’ll I’m glad the circus tent off of Tudor is on hold. We already have a church sponsored shelter in my Umed neighborhood and don’t need another supersized one. But it’s a shame the assembly can waste so much money fighting the Mayor. Buy the Northway mall or Close schools and put the there. While at it, shrink the ASD administration and move them to a school being closed.

  11. Why are we spending millions of dollars on a few hundred people who do not want to obey the law. identify them, contact next of kin return to sender. There are more white than Natives now. Years ago it was just the poor Natives after being kicked out of there villages were the homeless. When the heck did this other batch come. This is the last place in the world I would want to be homeless.To many freebies available. Not trying to be mean but duh.We have nomads here in Mountain View that constantly move their vehicles around or try to squat empty buildings.

    Told when vehicle is ticketed they have 24 hours and if it is moved a few inches they get another 24 hours. It’s madness change that stupid law also, ticket and tow.

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