Assembly’s homelessness chair says camping on Anchorage streets will not be illegal

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Felix Rivera

After June’s ruling in favor of local control for homelessness problems, Anchorage Assembly Housing & Homelessness Committee Chair Felix Rivera reassured the vagrants and drug addicts of Anchorage that public camping will not be illegal in the municipality.

“It is important to note that the ruling addresses the criminalization and prosecution of people sleeping in public space. It has never been the practice or policy of the Municipality to actively prosecute people experiencing homelessness for the simple act of camping in public. Most recently, this April, the Assembly indefinitely postponed AO 2024-39, an ordinance proposed by the Bronson Administration which would have amended Title 8 to criminally penalize public camping,” Rivera said.

Rivera, a former member of the Ethan Berkowitz Administration, said the city is now addressing homelessness “humanely.”

“Today, the Municipality has all the tools we need to humanely address life, health, and safety in our community. Abatement is only one of the many tools and the Assembly approved AO 2024-55(S), As Amended, revising the regulations that prioritize abatement just last month,” he said. “In the coming months, I anticipate the incoming Administration and new Municipal Attorney will need time to review their toolbelt, assess the impact of the Grants Pass ruling and engage the Assembly in their approach.”

In May, when the Assembly passed the ordinance, Rivera called it a lighter version of what former Mayor Bronson had proposed, after the Assembly refused to allow him to complete the mass shelter that was part of his transition center proposal that he came into office with.

The new ordinance only bans homeless campsites within a half-mile of a shelter and trims group encampments to no more than 25 tents. The ordinance also says that if the city wants to clear a camp, it needs to give the campers 10 days, rather than the 15 days previously on the books.

Over the course of three years, the Assembly had expressed open hostility to Mayor Bronson, who came into office with the intention of solving the homeless crisis that now defines Anchorage.

The Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, which is run by Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel, wrote last week that the Supreme Court’s decision is “disappointing.”

“Today’s disappointing U.S. Supreme Court Grants Pass ruling will not change how we support basic needs of unsheltered neighbors,” the group wrote. ACEH says it has successfully housed 150 people over the past year in Anchorage. According to its tax filings with the IRS, it expended $1.6 million in 2022 and the current homeless population in Anchorage is between 1,700 and 3,000.

Most of the homeless are addicted to substances, are criminals, or are mentally ill or physically disabled.

“The solution to homelessness is housing, and our community has mapped out action steps in our five-year strategic plan, Anchored Home,” ACEH said.

“We hold tight to our commitment to ensure that homelessness in Anchorage is rare, brief and one-time,” said Zaletel.

Anchorage has spent $161 million on homelessness over a three-year span.

Subsequent to the Supreme Court decision, meanwhile, in other cities, such as Manchester, N.H., leaders have already passed no-street-camping ordinances and brought in bulldozers to raze the camps that are blocking rights of way.

48 COMMENTS

  1. Humanely for whom? Certainly not the citizens and businesses who don’t want them rampant all over town.

    This is what voter apathy gets you Anchorage. Dystopian socialism.
    And the ballot comes to your door…

    • You really know whom to blame for this garbage, don’t you? What have you done to stop it? Voted? Nope.

      • I don’t live in Anchorage. I vote where I live. I get involved where I live.

        And yes, I know exactly who to blame for this garbage. Lazy voters. Specifically lazy Anchorage conservative voters. Facts are stubborn things.

        Now tell me where I can send you some depends and something for your diaper rash.

      • I also notice when you complain, you are never, ever able to point to where I’m provably wrong.

        As much as it bothers you, I have a method to my approach. To attempt to get Anchorage voters to acknowledge reality or get motivated enough to do something about it.

        So far, the alleged “conservative majority” resists.

        Why do I bother? Simple. The rot in Anchorage will infest the rest of the state. Juneau has enough challenges. It doesn’t need the crap of Anchorage as well.

  2. Since this Supreme Court ruling, every night a person in Anchorage spends a night on the street or in the woods represents a choice by our Municipal government to make it so. Leaving people in such a condition does no one any favors – not property owners, not tourists who want to enjoy a walk in a park, and least of all the unhoused. $161 million in 3 years, more than triple what the previous Mayor proposed in a plan which had the scope and compassion to help everyone who wanted help, and the results speak for themselves. There are no more excuses for homelessness in Anchorage.

    • Bronson’s plan and its supporters were long on talking points and short on meaningful details. I’m sure you’re aware that “navigation” was initiated by Bean’s at the Sullivan in 2020 and was a documented failure. There was no triage; services were available to clients purely if they felt like it, with ¾ of them declining to participate. In other words, it was a continuation of the existing failed approach. A different approach, with the buzzword “engagement” attached instead of “navigation”, was discussed during the latter half of 2019. It was quickly suppressed, mainly because people who didn’t require extensive handholding by the nonprofit sector could have received help and gotten off the streets much quicker. When I volunteered and assisted street ministry teams at Bean’s and BFS, I met multiple people who admitted to being there as long as 10–12 years. Since I started working with the homeless in 2016, the entire MO appears to be making people dependent in one form or another. The Bronson administration never once sold me on how things would be different, especially when using a term that described a previously failed approach such as I refer to above at the Sullivan.

      • The approach you prefer has a very poor track record. Unless you count perpetuating the cycle as successful.

        As many failures as Bronson had, he was at least willing to attempt to alter the dynamic.

        • MA, what you’re doing is telling the other person they’re full of s*&^ while doing little or nothing to explain yourself, which is in extremely poor form. I see you admit to not living in Anchorage elsewhere in this thread. Maybe you think your constant presence here is an acceptable substitute for understanding the issues. Maybe the reason I don’t talk much about homeless issues anymore is because everything believes themselves to be an expert and reveals otherwise once they start writing. Even though I already explained myself, I’ll break it down further, since it appears to be necessary.

          As “engagement” was sold to me, a new shelter would be established with a central chokepoint. Receiving any services from the shelter would be contingent on an initial interview with a case manager involving a thorough explanation of the client’s situation. Priority in receiving temporary housing or additional services would be contingent on regularly working with the case manager on developing a plan to transition off the streets. I heard talk of locating this shelter within close proximity to Job Service in order to greater assist people who are capable of working.

          Contrast that with the existing approach. New entrants into a shelter are hunted down by case managers solely to conduct a coordinated entry assessment in order to enter their names into the Homeless Management Information System. From there, clients are mostly left to fend for themselves. If they’re able to see a case manager, they’re usually told they should apply for disability if they expect to receive any help. This is intended to create an income stream for nonprofits to exploit, not to help the client become self-sufficient or realize their best option to get out of the shelter. When the pandemic emergency occurred, the game of using the homeless for data collection in order to secure funding ramped up, as well as the push towards tying everyone into some sort of income rather than giving them the tools to succeed. The Sullivan shelter opened a “navigation” center staffed by “navigators”, except it was no different than what previously operated in other places under different names.

          On the surface, the “engagement” scenario sounds much like the Bronson plan. I can’t say for certain that’s the case, though. You know why? Johnny Rah-Rah boosterism on social media is a poor substitute for meaningful details. I’ve heard and read more than my share of the former and precious little of the latter. The pandemic made me a economic refugee and I left Alaska in March 2021, but that didn’t cause me to disengage from the issue. I streamed Zoom meetings with Bronson himself in attendance, where nothing concrete was said and members of the public lashed out at him for such.

          Why would Bronson be stuck on the term “navigation” when it’s been used for over four years by Bean’s Cafe and Catholic Social Services, with no meaningful results on their part? That’s not even the most important question, however. Remember the group that showed up at the Assembly in summer 2020 with a plan to move the homeless out to the Mile 58 prison as long as DOC didn’t require need of the facility? There were credible allegations that Bronson’s “navigation” facility would have involved people being taken there by force and told “Either go to treatment or go to jail”.

          Besides the “engagement” plan, I didn’t even mention the numerous people who showed up at the Assembly Homelessness Committee and other meetings, who were eager to partner with the Municipality in giving the homeless the tools they need to succeed in the world. AGRM does an excellent job in this regard, but the problem far exceeds their capacity.

      • Each adult individual is responsible for themselves. Begin with this presupposition and then we can talk about the remainder (hard caes, medically compromised, ect.). We seem to put everyone in the remainer category to start with.

        Also, addicted people mostly do not want help. They want to drink or drug. They ought to be moved on so they do not impact people’s lives with their foolishness.

      • Yeah. Because that “plan” is working so well.

        When people realize two Assembly members are profiteering off of homelessness, then things will change.

        Until then, Anchorage gets what is deserve: an embarrassing mess of poop in the woods, trash everywhere, people dying in the cold, parks we cannot use, and WASTED taxpayer dollars.

        We are moving.

  3. Hope the folks are staying at Burrito Boys private residence sharing all the good stuff they have.
    Drugs and disease for openers.

  4. Marxism leads to abject poverty, misery, and death. Sounds like Los Anchorage is right on track…….

  5. That’s the ticket, make Anchorage available to the vagrant’s, drug addict’s and rapists😡
    To hell with the law abiding, hard working citizens that pay taxes.

  6. Hum, I say all the homeless should camp outside the homes of the Anchorage assembly…bet CC will quickly change his tune

    • Right there.
      I am thinking of handing out flyers with the addresses of the Assembly members supporting the homeless on them in the various camps. Tell them they are welcome on those streets.
      .
      If it is so great to have vagrants camping all over, they can start in front of the Assembly member homes.

  7. Hey Anchorage! These are not serious people. I know they are of your tribe, but perhaps you could look a little farther down the road as to how this impacts your precious bottom line. You have destroyed a once great city. Hope you feel good about that, most of us don’t.

  8. Rivera should go join the homeless, where he seems to fit right in with them. Maybe he will allow them to camp out at his front yard? Use his restroom in his house? Why not? He should contribute directly to them, something he wants everyone else to do.

  9. They need a problem.
    Thousands of homeless that never get into a program that gets them self reliant is “the problem”
    They will never fix the problem because there is $50,000,000 a year in taxpayer money they can skim from.
    The people benefiting from the never ending homeless cash train are absolutely evil. Biblically evil.

  10. Why is it every time I see felix, I wonder if he was a fat central American banana republic tyrant in a former life…?

  11. For years our lying Assembly hid behind bad case law from the 9th Circuit court as an excuse to coddle drunken Native vagrants, rather than taking action against their antisocial behavior.
    Supreme Court took away that excuse this week.

    Its no surprise that they radicals that have nothing but contempt for taxpayers – but at least now they must own their inaction. Criminalizing panhandling is back on the table – they just won’t do it.

  12. Another left wing moron. “Public camping” is also, usually, trespassing. The courts allow local governments to prosecute this crime.

    Of note, there has been a significant rise in bacterial contamination of our rivers and oceans thanks to Democrats, who hate our environment. All the bums pooping and peeing on our streets and sidewalks works its way into our water. But Democrats don’t care. All they want is destruction.

  13. We home owners, ratepayers, taxpayers, and citizens do not matter to Meg, who caters to the junkies, drug dealers and drug addicts.
    Deal with the problem, get help for the drug addicts, arrest the dealers, and do not allow them to further encamp within our city limits.
    Meg, resign as the total disgrace that you are.

    • She’s not going anywhere.

      At some point Anchorage’s sane citizens must make a decision. Decide to live in the Socialist dystopia or leave it.

      As of now, there is no strong evidence of said turnout.

      • No no no. You’ve got to say it in the late, great Macho Man Randy Savages voice: She ain’t go’n nowhere!

  14. Time for every single homeowner to file an appeal on their property taxes. This is ridiculous. If you didn’t vote, at least protect your pocketbook. If you need help locating the form it’s at muni.org. Oh, and don’t forget the “temporary 3% tax” they want to add along with the 500k toilets. Maybe next time Anchorage citizens should get out and vote.

  15. CBMTTek…you’re speaking my language! The outrage will come, when the vagrants set up their camps in the neighborhoods of the all powerful politicians and government agencies!

  16. Be sure to thank your Lafrance and assembly supporters and voters for this along with the non-voters. They are the ones enabling this.

  17. Consequences for bad behavior is how a large majority of those “camping in the public spaces” ended up where they are. All you have to do is drive through Mtn View to see how Felix wants out city to look. The only people dumber then him are the people who keep electing him. He has aligned himself with communists in your community. There was a time he would have been run out of town for that.

  18. This would be an excellent opportunity to override Mr. Rivera’s thinking by unleashing an initiative to enact the precise ordinance proposed by Mayor Bronson. It is an easy “yes” or “no” question.

    • Good idea, problem is the people who control Anchorage’s election process are employed by the Assembly.
      .
      Wouldn’t be surprised to see more boycotts, more Eaglexits, until Anchorage faces collapse under the weight of its homeless-industrial complex.

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