Anchorage Assembly hearing Tuesday: Formalized homeless camps

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The Anchorage Assembly will hear from the public on Tuesday evening about the Assembly’s plan to establish formalized, or “allowed,” homeless encampments in the city.

The plan is modeled after similar ordinances in Denver, San Diego, and Santa Cruz, where tent encampments are established, covered by insurance, and maintained by paid staff. It’s part of a number of solutions to deal with a section of society that has fallen and can’t seem to get up. Other solutions include the purchase of “Pallet homes,” which are tiny structured shelters that provide more comfort than tents.

Currently, random and sometimes sprawling homeless camps have spread throughout Anchorage, causing concern to taxpayers about the filthy and dangerous state of greenbelts and trails, many of which have been overtaken by outlaws, addicts, and vagrants.

As more unemployed people move from rural Alaska to Anchorage, they’re met with a spectrum of services that enable them to live on the margins of society, forming their own networks of people who are satisfied with just the basics in order to pursue a life of recreational drugs, alcohol, crime, and a form of freedom from responsibility.

Sponsored by Assemblymen George Martinez, Zac Johnson, and Kevin Cross, the ordinance amending Anchorage Municipal Code Chapter 16.125, Title 21 and Title 23 would define and establish sanctioned camps in the Municipality of Anchorage. There would be permits granted to campsite operators, who would be able to provide ancillary buildings for sanitation and emergency shelter. The entire program would be outside the authority of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Pictured above, a sanctioned camp in Denver, Colo. is one of the examples of what a similar one in Anchorage might look like, according to the makers of the ordinance.

Currently, Anchorage Municipal Code subsection 25.70.040A.1. prohibits camping on municipal land, and section 8.45.010 prohibits trespass on both public and private land. However, this is widely disregarded by the homeless encampments that have spread across sections of the city, and it has not been enforced.

One version of the amended code can be read at this link.

A second version of the amended code would create more limits, so that rather than encouraging numerous sanctioned camps to spring up all over the city, there would be one camp on municipal property as a pilot program. That substitute version of the proposed ordinance can be read at this link.

The public hearing on this item may come toward the end of the meeting, which starts at 5 pm on the ground floor of the Loussac Library, which is at the corner of Denali St. and 36th Ave. The entire agenda packet can be viewed at this link.

54 COMMENTS

  1. This is a step in the right direction. Being homeless is not a crime by law. I was homeless myself for three months once although I had the means to provide for myself during that time. It’s people that aren’t able to help themselves that this will benefit the most.

  2. And what makes anyone think that the majority of the homeless who are bestial, anti-social, drug and mental illness-added anti-socials will submit to being housed in these “approved” camps?
    And what will be done with all those (and there will be many) who refuse to go into the “approved” camps, and who continue to illegally trespass on public and private properties, said trespassing already not being punished or discouraged in any way?

    • The point isn’t to do anything about the “homeless”. The point is the insurance, paid staff, maintenance, ancillary shelter and sanitation facilities, and most importantly the permits and ability to operate outside of the rules (zoning for one) that the people who pay property taxes must operate. Assembly created faux industry is the point and has been the point since “Backside Berkowitz” hired his first “homeless czar”.

    • 1-notice whose districts they will be in, and who districts they will not be in.

      2-At this point, anyone continuing to live in Anchorage needs to acknowledge this is your reality. You are Pay Pigs to a lawless Politburo.

      • And that is precisely why Eaglexit cannot happen fast enough, to allow the sane majority of Chugiak and Eagle River to divorce themselves from the corruption and insanity that prevails in Los Anchorage.

    • Righto about no proof that these people want to be housed, regardless of how you define it. There are a multitude of “programs” and “services” for these people already. They are clearly voting with their feet!

  3. If there was affordable housing anywhere in Alaska that would be a hell of a lot better than a tent……imagine in below zero weather……….Those cities mentioned above have a super high cost of living like here. I wonder how many people are homeless because they couldn’t afford a place to live anymore ? Those are the ones I feel bad for. I’m sure we all know a family that is living on the edge here in Alaska with the high prices and all…so sad.

  4. Load up the welcome wagon with clean needles and crack pipes. That will be the key to getting the addicts to join the neighborhood encampment. If theres nothing in it for them they will choose the woods behind your house or the trails near the public playgrounds so they can blend in

  5. This city will never do the right thing, deal with the drug and violence issues. Hey Chrissy Constantly complaining, this is YOUR fault, leader o assy.
    Instead, this assy turns our city into a sh-thole with more pan handlers, organized crime, et al that these fake communes/crates/tents/whatever create.
    When are the native corporations, that are the reason there are no jobs in those native communities, going to help those communities? Instead everyone comes or gets exiled to anchorage and we homeownwes, business owners, rate payers, et al, have to pay for a homeless situation created by the native communities as well as the federal government who keeps us from prospering off our own natural resources….
    WTF anchorageites?

  6. Come on Bronson! Clean it up!
    Here we go…assembly this…assembly that. The buck stops at LeBronson’s desk.

    When you said you would cleanup the vagrancy problem, I believed you.
    When you said that you would deal with the ‘few hundred’ problematic individuals, I believed you. When you said that vagrancy would take center stage of your campaign, I believed you.

    Let’s stop blaming everyone else and start walking the walk!

    • Bronson had plans. He had a solution. The assembly funded it and then refused to pay. As a result, we the tax payers ended up paying $2.5 million for nothing. Thanks Assembly!

  7. If they’re committing a crime then there’s that if the PD is willing. But like I said it’s been ruled that being homeless is not a crime. You can’t force people into somewhere that they don’t want to go. The police need to be more active in supporting the laws. But what are you going to do? Put hundreds of people in jail on misdemeanor crimes? That’s not going to solve the issue. It’s a tough one but there you are.

    • Homelessness itself may not be a crime but squatting on public OR private property is. ‘Don’t care where they go but they can’t stay here’. In other words, the moment they stop walking they automatically are breaking the law. When there are no more places to sleep on the ground, then even the most hard core bum will move on.

      • You’re not saying anything that I haven’t already said. To remind you, I said if they’re trespassing or Loitering or any other laws that they are breaking, the place should do their job and arrest them. After so many arrests, they can be considered habitual and then they can be moved on to whatever the law provides. It has to start with enforcement though. Yes that’s probably going to mean you’re going to pay more tax dollars to hire more police and build bigger detention facilities. You can’t have it all.

  8. So, the Assembly is hoping to set up another slush fund for their friends, still avoiding any sort of permanent solution?

    Surprising!

    I’ll hold my breath on any of them quitting their jobs to staff the “sanctioned” camps. What kind of weird intersection of law enforcement, municipal code, contract law, employment law, charitable giving, religious proselytizing, etc, might crop up if this proposal becomes a reality?

  9. Looks all neat, tidy and pleasant enough, now. Wait until the homeless move in and their trash piles up and they urinate and defecate in the streets. And that’s the group that will actually move in the “encampment” Anyone paying attention to how the streets of SF look lined with the tents? These people have no respect for anything; give them something free with no responsibility and they won’t appreciate it or care for it.
    Having experienced a few months of homelessness with a teenager, (end of a marriage to an abusive, hateful man, who destroyed my credit and tried very hard to destroy my life) I don’t say this out of discrimination; rather out of having “been there, done that”. I wanted out of it and back on my feet as quickly as humanly possible. Fought my way back and never took a taxpayer handout. It was a multiple years process, but well worth it. It can be done, and I’m quite certain many others; who
    wanted to have also recovered. All it takes is effort and determination. Sad story is most homeless want the lifestyle. Throwing money at them will only draw them in to claim it, but not their lives back.

    • Congrats RaeLynn for getting yourself back on your feet. And thank you for pointing out the difference between a homeless person who is trying for a better life and a homeless person that just wants support to stay that way.

    • Curious how come you think most homeless folks have a different take on their own homelessness experience than you did on yours.

      By the way, I understand nearly 50% are disabled. Are you disabled, too? That can be a GIANT hindrance to getting from homeless to affordable housing. But yes it has and can be overcome, too.

      • Maureen, I am disabled in an emotional way; anxiety, PTSD, but no not physical.
        After returning to mainstream society I ventured into the homeless population offering care packages, food and listening to their stories.
        I believe 75% of those I spoke with were vets with severe PTSD and substance abuse issues. They were kicked out of shelters because they couldn’t remain sober; but disability payments did provide enough for them to live decently.
        Many were immigrants who couldn’t come up with funds to get into housing.
        A distinct percentage just enjoyed the freedom of living according to the lifestyle of not being part of the daily grind. They were not offended by being “homeless”or the accompanying stigma. They choose to be vagrants and suck off society with their careless trashy ways. No respect for anything or anyone.
        Some just slipped between the cracks and had given up.
        There is no one size fits all in homelessness, but people who want out can get out was my point.

  10. This is a further deterioration into a society of idiocy where in the working people that are attempting to live within societies laws are being marginalized and taxed to maintain a lifestyle for those that refuse to adhere to those same laws. It is patently unfair and will lead to the unraveling of our society.

  11. Go ahead and let the hate fly!

    Making it easier to BE homeless, encourages more to become homeless and those who already are, to remain that way. Since there is a finite amount of money/services, those who are truly in need have to be screened out and provided for. That means children, parents with children, and those with mental health issues go to the front of the line. Are you a vet? Please go through the VA instead of the city/state for your available programs. If you are an adult, no under age kids, and have EVER turned down benefits, or been denied benefits due to your behavior, you are what’s called S.O.L. You get nothing and you should be ‘encouraged’ move on to other locations as you are no longer welcome in this area.

    All benefits and services need to be contingent on correct behavior and effort to becoming un homeless.

    • Hey Paul, dyou give RuRAL CAP a call to get a look first hand at their programs working with the homeless?

  12. Give me a break! Stop doing this and providing these seagulls places to live! All this is doing is furthering the issue and ENCOURAGING IT!
    Las Vegas has it down. You don’t feed them. Or Allow them to camp in public, make them move on.
    They chose their path and are opting to be that way. If they wanted to change they would get the help they need. It’s just allowing drunks, drug addicts and probably prostitutes to be there. Where kids and other people can see.
    Mommy why are those people living outside? Because little Timmy, if you choose drugs and alcohol and a bad life, THIS is where you will end up. Homeless. Should be a lesson not a way of life!

  13. If you hold a sanctioned camp in an unpopular area like next to Clitheroe they won’t come.

    • No bus to Clithroe area. No service to get out of homelessness in Clithroe area, no grocery, no healthcare, no jobs to become self supporting, no schools in Clitheroe area….

      There are reasons they are unpopular and folks don’t come.

  14. These encampments scattered around town makes a whole lot more sense than the Mayors plan.

    It is much easier to let these individuals find their own way rather than introducing them to professional help and counseling. A navigation center could be way to successful and the numbers would go down which in turn means loss of taxpayer dollars going to nonprofits and the big salaries running them.

    We just cant risk that. We must stick to the big democrat models that guarantee successful outcomes.
    By the way has anyone been to downtown Portland lately? If not you should visit soon and spend some time there and get a grasp on the future of Anchorage.
    This is NOT a step in the right direction.
    It is simply a step to the left which is a way of circling back to where you were.

    • Your comment is kind of a mixed bag and hard to nail down. IMHO, making it more convenient with numerous camps spread all over town will be a disaster – both to the neighborhoods and to tax payers. Are there some people who are genuinely homeless through no fault of their own? Certainly, yet I bet that number is about 5-10% of the entire mass. But, like the latest transgender mess, this issue has escalated exceedingly fast over the past 5 – 6 years. It’s out of control and throwing more money and resources at it won’t and hasn’t alleviated the problem. In fact, it seems to be escalating. Hey, why work or better themselves when they can take the People Mover from one encampment to another. Pretty soon they’ll have their own mobile Homeless Economy: buying, selling and trading stolen goods while having the city wipe their collective butts with tax payer funded Charmin. Wonderful. “It is much easier to let these individuals find their own way rather than introducing them to professional help and counseling”. You know what’s easier at this point? Cutting them off completely and let them “… find their way” all year long. And, the Navigation Center WAS the Mayor’s original plan until Felix, Chrissy and Crew set him up for failure. This town looks nothing like what it used to when I was growing up here. Believe me, that was a long time ago. I’m literally done with this issue. The left has rewritten the narrative. What was once a vagrant is now… a camper. I’m puking.

      • Hey Brad-are you aware of where vagrancy laws came from?

        Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar disorders are of the most common mental health concerns of chronically homeless. Not unusual for substance abuse as comfort to the symptoms to follow. Many other mental health disorders are found in that group.

        Substance abuse remains a high concern but not affecting anywhere near the percentages you think.

        Evictions are up again since some stoppage during the pandemic. Affordable housing at this point is becoming the major friver of homelessness. About half the homeless of Anchorage population is disabled in some regard. Now housing is really really limited for those folks.

        Whites make up 40% of Anchorage’s homeless, Natives more than 40% but far less than 50%.

        • I guess you better pony up and start feeding the homeless person closest to you. You can even offer your yard to tent a camper. Hopefully your neighbors will be understanding not to complain about you , ‘ Maureen has a tent in her yard and it’s starting to look crummy and bringing the neighborhood down. Hahaha ‘ the next plan our city leadership will concoct up is Adopt-a-homeless person . I already have . It become apparent when I saw my neighbor give weed to the homeless person I been looking after . I ran out with water and apple asking who is that and did they offer you weed? He’s not a friend, friends build you up not bring you down, and weed does that brings you down. He is like a nine year old. Maureen maybe you’ll get lucky and find your own homeless person to look after.

      • Brad, you and Andy are on the same team. The first part of andy’s comment was jesting. He wrapped up in the end his true opinion, the assembly plan will still be a disaster. We do need our men of anchorage like you and Andy being more involved civically and governmentally. You interests like sports can wait, it always could wait. Right now our men are needed at the city gates overseeing city business. Let the kids play and watch sports, you men just make sure they can safely ride their bicycles and kick the ball down the streets without hitting a homeless person. Hahahaha. Sorry…. I’m in a good mood right now

        • Jen… I’m quite politically active and, I’m what is called a Super Voter. I agree, Andy and I are very close and, I piggy-backed on his post to unload in-general. No ill will intended. Speaking of sports, ages ago (nearly 60 years), my brothers and I were literally raised near the ball fields at 9th and C and B. The only issues back then were inebriated peeps who graciously exited the dugouts and navigated to the stands to become some our best fans. (And, the only panhandler was Floyd. He was as iconic as Mr. Whitekeys.) Other than the smell of beer and urine in the dugouts, it wasn’t a bad time at all. Now, being homeless, drunk, defecating and having sex in public is becoming a cottage industry for some and an epidemic for the rest of us. To Maureen’s point of mental illness, if one isn’t mentally ill before they hit the streets, they soon will be. I’ll hold my personal comments regarding Ms Suttman but, she’s wrong to assume that many in here aren’t nearly as knowledgable as herself. The time for statistically excuses is over and, throwing more $$$ at it is, as I’ve said before, “Loving them to death.”

  15. Here’s an idea: there’s thousands of square feet of buildings empty this time of year: schools. Why not let them camp on school grounds for the summer? They can use the bathrooms. Taxpayers don’t have to pay for new facilities this way. Then put them back in the new ruined Sullivan Arena in winter.

  16. Housing solves a lot of problems. The Karluk Manor is a great example. The occupants are not necessarily sober, but they are good neighbors. The problem is cost v. benefit. If government runs it then there is a conflict. Democrats want more jobs for Democrats, which isn’t the same thing as helping homeless people. How many assembly members receive money from the homelessness sector?

    • Karluk is a wonderfully effective Housing First model for the sector of folks battling substance abuse and homelessness. We need more. RuRAL CAP is a quiet responder who does excellant work regarding homelessness and housing in general.

      All the homelessness programing I know of, having worked twice within local programs with federal grants through HUD to provide services, are non profits. Federal grants do not cover bribery of local officials. One Assembly person has a day job in the field of homelessness, and recuses on these issues.

      Maybe look at what the mayor has gotten from those that oppose homeless services instead.

  17. This article insinuates all rural Alaskans are the problem to “to pursue a life of recreational drugs, alcohol, crime, and a form of freedom from responsibility” Is this real hardcore data or something you just pulled out of the air? Some rural folks, like me and several thousand others pursue jobs, making a living, paying bills, kids, degrees, etc.

  18. For these campers a tent is heaven compared to a prison cell, they’ll live this life until they had enough of it. No matter who’s our city’s mayor or assembly, we stuck with the homeless until they done being homeless, done with addiction, done feeling sorry for themself.

  19. Jen, how many of Anchorage’s homeless have substance abuse and/or addiction concerns as the primary force causing their homelessness?

  20. Hum, we as taxpayers have spent millions on the homeless over the years. Have you noticed that nothing has gotten any better? RuralCap and others, including former city officials, i.e. Mark Begich and John Weddleton, have figured out how to get on the gravy train of millions of government money. They’ve gotten rich on your taxes. The homeless industrial complex is alive and well folks. Seems to me that politicians want more homeless so they can get richer.

    • Taxed to Death is on to something that lurks beneath the surface. Someone I know very well was contacted by “a former mayor” about an investment opportunity that involved said Gravy Train. What’s that Hillaryism? “Don’t Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste”?

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