The Anchorage Assembly on Friday extended Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’ civil emergency declaration until Aug. 6. The Assembly also directed the mayor to fund the Brother Francis Shelter, which lost state funding. The 240-bed shelter has been planning to downsize to serve 100 people as a result of those cuts, beginning Aug. 1.
The city is likely to scrape funds from other programs, and take other measures that are allowed under the emergency order , which may include taxes, if the order is extended by the Assembly.
In the mayor’s justification for a civil emergency, he outlined the problems associated with the state budget cutbacks:
- $5.8 million cut in Anchorage-specific services to homeless, resulting in a projected 800 more unsheltered homeless in our community, adding significantly to the burden of first responders and pushing vulnerable individuals and families beyond their tipping point;
- the temporary closing of Brother Francis Shelter, forcing 240 homeless individuals to become immediately unsheltered on Aug. 1, and the dramatic reduction of services by 140 people after its reopening on Aug. 5;
- cuts to Medicaid, senior benefits, legal services, food banks, domestic violence case management and support, and behavioral health, causing public health and public safety emergencies and the eviction of our most vulnerable residents;
- 41 percent cut to state’s contribution to the University of Alaska, resulting in the projected loss of 700 jobs in Anchorage and projected to push Anchorage into recession.
The emergency declaration allows the municipality to provide housing or temporary structures for emergency shelters, as well as provide social services to homeless individuals and families with no immediate options available to them.