Drone footage of Centennial Campground shows orderly situation, as Salvation Army steps in to help the homeless

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The Municipality of Anchorage has accepted help from the Salvation Army to provide services at Centennial Campground, where about 200 people who are currently homeless are living in established campsites, complete with running water, toilets, garbage services, security, and municipal staff helping solve problems as they arise.

A small number of those living at Centennial Campground were previously housed in the Sullivan Arena, which had been commandeered by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who converted it into a congregate shelter that was to assist with physical distancing in the nonprofit shelters, when Covid was raging through the state.

Salvation Army will be providing on-site client care coordination. Over the next couple of days, the Salvation Army will begin working with other nonprofits to coordinate the many services being offered there, such as meals, case management, donations, supplies, and more. Anchorage Parks and Recreation will continue to provide security and a team of on-site staff to ensure coordination with the municipality.

Several leftist members of the Anchorage Assembly have called the conditions at the campground a “humanitarian crisis.” They have blamed the Bronson Administration for what they say is an all-time high number of people living on the streets.

The Bronson Administration differed in its views of the situation: “As someone who has visited Centennial almost every day since the Sullivan closed, the tremendous improvements over other unsanctioned sites in Anchorage are obvious. I truly believe we are at our best when we set aside politics and work together, and I’m grateful for the many stakeholders who share that vision,” Bronson said.

About 60 of the people at Centennial Campground came from the Sullivan Arena, which closed as an overnight mass shelter on July 1. The remainder came from camp sites tucked around in fire-prone areas around the wooded areas in Anchorage. The illegal campers in the greenbelts and forests were all given other options, such as the Aviator Hotel, Gospel Rescue Mission, and other shelters, but they all chose to go to the Centennial Campground, rather than traditional shelters, officials said.

Assembly members Kameron Perez-Verdia, Felix Rivera and Daniel Volland have proposed even more expenditures than the tens of millions already spent by the Assembly on failed projects like the Golden Lion Hotel, which the Assembly helped former Mayor Berkowitz buy, to be used as a drug rehabilitation center. That controversial purchase put children at a daycare at the nearby Lubavitch Jewish Center in danger.

The new proposed Assembly expenditures include $20 million for these items:

1)    $500K to remodel and immediately open up 60 rental units

2)    $2M to fund emergency shelter needs through the end of 2022

3)    $1.5M for outreach services

4)    $3.4M to complete capital funding for the Guest House opening up 130 units

5)    $12.6M for purchase of another hotel to open up to 120 units. 

According to Assembly Member Kameron Perez-Verdia, “Our plan to address to the current crisis is informed by years of community work to develop a comprehensive approach to address homelessness, known as the Anchored Home plan. Our proposal leverages public-private partnerships to address the immediate crisis and build for the future so we don’t end up in this untenable situation again.”

Must Read Alaska flew a drone camera through the campground to ground-truth the claims of a “humanitarian crisis” and provide this picture of what the campground looked like on Monday:

25 COMMENTS

  1. So, 20 million more for the homeless.
    At this rate, I’ll be homeless myself.
    I see they say there are about 281,000 people in MOA.
    Hard to believe.
    But, divide it out and that comes to $71.42+ per head, if all were kicking in.
    I have a family of four.
    And four dogs.
    Plus three chickens. ( Not pulling their weight )
    And a homestead house they started building 1957 which is in various stages of construction, repair and failure.
    Apparently, it is worth a couple hundred grand.
    They compare it to this home up on the hillside built in 1985…

  2. So, spying on the camp? Everyone else is talking to people actually there and not with the just mayor’s office as you do here.

    Kinda hard to see wet feet from 50 feet. Kmow how dangerous wet feet are to folks without more dry socks or shoes or a dry towel? Skin rots off. Opens the body to further poor health…

    That’s just one thing.

    Orderly situation is how it’s described. From way up in the air.

    • You could always open your check book and rent the Sullivan arena so the folks at centennial park would bs dry again.

      • I give directly to providers of services, not owners of buildings who made a deal with the guy they elected.

        And worked directly in the field with homeless. How about you?

    • Hang on a minute here Maureen, I agree that wet feet are not good and trench foot is painful and can lead to serious health issue. That being said some of these individuals have lived on the street or in green belts for many years. Most of the time their camps were feces riddles dumps with trash and junk, and frankly prior administrations talked a good game, but did very little to remediate those camps and help these people. This is an idea outside the box, allowing homeless individuals to have a place with facilities, where they are actually welcome. Is the centennial park the Ritz, no of course not, but considering the alternative, having running water, toilets, food truck and other services is certainly an improvement.

      • Some of them haven’t. Some of themare veterans. All of them are out moms and dads and brothers and sisters and neighbors.

        • Maureen, I am saddened by your willful blindness that can not see the positive, when it comes from some one you do not like. Centennial Park IS better than the illegal filthy camps. Services ARE being provided. You have a very vulnerable community of individuals with a myriad of complex issues. The Sullivan arena was untenable as a permanent venue, with unjustifiable costs. Driving property taxes ever higher will only make more home and property owners vulnerable to loosing their housing and livelihood, adding to the very population the funds are spent for.
          You point out that these are our neighbors, mothers, fathers. That is true, yet society can only peacefully exist if we all adhere to certain standards of behavior. At some point it is necessary to remove the criminal element that preys on others among this population and the general public, assist those, willing to receive assistance and identify others, whose mental abilities do not allow them to make those decisions. Those who choose to remain on the street, are taking responsibility for themselves, as in the end the choices we make dictate the life we lead.

        • The Native Corporations need to rake of year people.
          The rural villages should not be allowed to send their problems to the cities. Make them take care of their issues out in the villages instead of a one way ticket to Anchorage or other placrs.

        • Yep! That’s why it says at the top:
          “Your comment is awaiting moderation”
          If it isn’t in all caps or riddled with foul language, Suzanne posts it. It is kind of like writing a letter to the editor, but with much better chances that it gets published, regardless of your stance.
          My hat is off to Suzanne every day for her diligence to not only bring us the news, but also post hundreds of comments. This one woman show ask better questions and looks behind the curtain, while others get the press release and just run with it!
          Triple Kudos and Dittos to Suzanne!

    • Over 90% of these made a CHOICE to not be part of an orderly society in favor of living on the dole. If it is too comfortable to be in their situation, you get more of them. The homeless in Anchorage contain a huge contingent from other states. They come here because they live well without participating, which costs the property owners.

      • 90% of those folks were unable to see the choices you have had.

        Alsaska has Lots of folks from other states that came here for the PFD. Did you?

        Most homeless with ability to get someplace do NOT choose Alaska as the place to go for homelessness. Think about it sir.

    • Maureen, do you honestly believe that the inhabitants of Centennial Campground cannot obtain, or be donated unto dry socks or shoes or a dry towel?

      Really?

      Oh, and it is not spying, as it is a PUBLIC space, and just as viewable from the air as from ground level, should one wish to observe it so.

      Your term of ‘spying’ suggests that you do not wish for it to be seen as it is, rather than how you believe it ‘should’ be.

      Have you donated said socks, shoes, or towels so as to alleviate your perceived lack of goods unto those currently occupying said protected spaces?

      If so, good for you!

      Many of us have done the same.

      If not, please, with all respect due, pound sand, as your meaningless feigned outrage is nothing more than so much tripe.

      Regards,

      • Spying as in using a drone camera from some distance without actually going in as a person sure does suggest spying.

        Previously worked as a homeless housing supervisor in a program that did other medical interventions. Yes. Donating presently.

        Also speaking with my neighbors about what is going on and using several different sources/sites to do that.

  3. The ACEH decided to pull out of Centennial Park because they said it was “unsafe”. So no the Salvation Army steps up to help out and the ACEH wants to stick their nose into what the Salvation Army is doing. They should just butt out and stop blowing our tax money enriching themselves and let a REAL charitable organization do the job.

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