Golden Lion hotel rental contract has loophole for illegal drug use


The Golden Lion, purchased by the Municipality of Anchorage under former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz for use as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, is now officially being used to house people who otherwise might be homeless. The first residents moved in this week.

Along with the GuestHouse Inn and Suites in Fairview, the Lakeshore Inn & Suites, the Barratt Inn, and Sockeye Inn in Spenard, and the Golden Lion in midtown is part of the constellation to house the increasing number of people who can’t find other suitable housing in Anchorage.

Karluk Manor was the first to pioneer the “housing first” concept for chronic inebriates. Opened in 2011 and run by RuralCAP, it became the blueprint for turning hotels into housing for the indigent. The organization also manages 325 East 3rd, Safe Harbor Muldoon, and Sitka Place at 1905 E. 4th Ave.

Twelve years later in 2023, there are over five hotels with more than 400 units of a similar nature in Anchorage for those who have run through their other options.

The rules at each hotel-style location are different. For former hotel Karluk Manor, the understanding is that people admitted there are ongoing chronic inebriates or street alcoholics. The residents are allowed to drink in their units.

At the Golden Lion, clients have nearly full control over their own modest hotel rooms, which come with a microwave oven, bed, bathroom, a couple of chairs, big-screen television, and desk.

In fact, the rental agreement states that the management company recognizes that “drug and alcohol use is part of the world in which we live and wishes to minimize the harmful effects of drug use on each individual and the community. Henning, Inc. does not condone or condemn drug or alcohol use; however, the use of these is strictly prohibited on the premises of the Golden Lion Hotel.”

Premises is loosely defined in the agreement, which goes on to acknowledge that residents must make their own choices about their substance abuse.

“We aim to create an environment where individuals can openly discuss substance use without fear of judgment and navigate their own personal path of choices. This includes discussing one’s choices regarding substance use and supporting one’s ability to make decisions regarding their own substance use goals (active use, recovery, abstinence, etc.). The staff of Henning is responsible for engaging residents in conversations about their use of drugs, alcohol, and prescription medications, addressing the effects of substances on the resident’s life and the community,” the contract states.

The agreement says people can’t be using drugs and alcohol in the lobby, hallways or western parking lot of this taxpayer-owned and funded building, but is silent about use in the rooms themselves, nor what kind of partying may go on in the alley behind the building, which is now listed on Google maps as the Municipality of Anchorage Homeless Shelter. The hotel alley backs up to a residential neighborhood, Geneva Woods.

In other words, the Golden Lion housing concept started out as a drug and alcohol rehab center under Mayor Berkowitz, but is now a homeless hotel where drugs and alcohol will be permitted, so long as it’s not observed by management.

If anything happens, the management company must give 24-hours notice before it can enter.

The rental agreement in full:


  1. How about the other hotel rooms the Muni rents for homeless? The Alex Hotel, the Aviator Inn, the Executive Inn?

  2. So, there are absolutely no consequences for illegal drug use??? I am so happy they have big screen televisions!!!

    • Which they will steal and sell. That’s why we no longer rent to Anchorage residents. Too many of our televisions were being concealed and carried out our side exits.

  3. First we have the Red Nose Inn where drinking in your room is allowed and now we have the Overdose Inn where shooting up illegal drugs or taking anything else illegal under the sun in your room is all but blessed by the municipality. So much for using the building as a treatment center when the purchase was being sold to the residents by AQD and the Anchorage Assembly. ‘

    Anchorage officials finalized the purchase of the Best Western Golden Lion Hotel in Midtown on Tuesday. The hotel will be converted into a drug and alcohol treatment center.

    The $9 million sale is the first finalized purchase in a larger city plan to address homelessness in Anchorage. It was funded by proceeds from the sale of Municipal Light and Power earmarked for a community substance treatment center. The plan sparked intense outcry from residents in Midtown neighborhoods who feared a nearby treatment center would hurt property values or introduce more crime.

    The Golden Lion was purchased with $15 million in proceeds from the sale of the city’s electric utility, Municipal Light & Power. Creating a treatment facility was outlined in the sale agreement to Chugach Electric Association Inc. The remaining money can be used for repairs.

    “Not only is the purchase an investment in an array of mental health services, but an investment in our local economy,” Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson said in a statement. “This dire need has been left unaddressed for too long and I’m thankful to our partners and the Assembly for making this transformational investment possible.”

  4. What a joke this city has become. Of course the addicted are not going to stay anywhere they can’t use alcohol or drugs. Why do you think they like camping outside. What I don’t understand is why we don’t separate homeless and vagrancy? Why are we allowing vagrants to break our laws?
    We have created a homeless industry. Many of our non-profits would not survive without all the homeless money handed out. Look at one of our assembly members who is being paid $250,000 a year to run a homeless coalition. Two of them want to do away with zoning so they can profit off of low rent houses to move a group into your neighborhood.We have spent almost 250 million in the last 3 years on “homeless,” and it is worse than it was. Guess the only way to upset residents is to make them wear masks. Let’s at least call it for what it is.

    • Agree. And the homeless industry is a voter base to mine for leftist votes as dependency and entitlement create votes for more dependency and entitlement. This is not compassion, it is enabling and growing a problem. True compassion would be a navigation center, a system set up to help as many as possible move forward and out of a cycle of dependency. Ultimately it is all about power and control and getting enough votes to keep it. Disgusting.

  5. It really sounds like much enabling may be increasing the problem since 2011. Is there any accountability or contribution at all by any of the clients in these facilities? Even vacuuming or mowing the lawn. Some productivity. Is it just providing shelter so they don’t have to pitch a tent in the woods but can continue a destructive lifestyle at taxpayer expense? I have nothing against shelters but there should be a hand up structure instead of a hand out. And the supposed ‘rent’ Golden Lion will be charging will essentially be paid by us, the taxpayers. Vouchers and assistance do not grow on trees.

  6. This is pure BS!
    How can ANYBODY think this will help these “clients”
    If you feed and house these “clients’ for FREE, what is the incentive to do any work?
    Worthless & weak, you dimlibbys are a plague on Alaska & America!

  7. Well you all sound like a bunch of haters. Typical. Have you all fallen ill and become homeless .and being a drug addicts is a illness. So you rather the homeless ugli-fy your neighborhood and poop in your back yard then get a room and a TV of their own with much deserved and well spent tax dollars. So not everyone is employable but they do deserve a nod cause it’s their life not yours

    • Drug addiction is personal psychological and moral failing not a sickness or disease. But persecution complex and perpetual victimhood are symptoms of a serious personality disorder. Get yourself some help Dawn.

    • “It’s their life not yours” -dawn. MRAK readers this is the problem. Dawn represents the crowd they are so callus so detached from their community. They are completely OKAY with watching PEOPLE destroy their lives instead of cutting off what and who is enabling them with provisions. The state of Alaska being the biggest enabler. I’d rather see the legislature dramatically reduce the public assistance eligibility as it was in 1990 when it means forcing these people to get serious about their sobriety and maintaining employment if they want to eat and have what costs because they can’t expect to receive public assistance because of ineligibility. According to Freedom House radio hours on anchorage 89.3 fm interviewees whom openly share their recovery from drug addictions have said the worse action family and neighbors did for them was always having the safety net hung out cause it didn’t let them hit bottom sooner. I have met too many hired housekeepers whom know they need to work cause they need money. When they begin work, any work, they not used to employment and out of shape or not used to working especially a job like hotel housekeeping where its an adrenaline pumping job and feels like a cardio fitness aerobic program every day, they quit after two days. Why. Because they know they can fall on their safety net collecting public assistance or borrowing another’s public assistance or money to get by. Its more cruel watching an adult child, friend, or community neighbor destroy their life because of you can’t put away the safety net. People by nature are Survivors, you take away their safety net, the things that keep them stuck, they’ll get to work and stay employed.

    • Actually, I’m not. Allowing drinking and drug use in the these places is ridiculous. If tax money is going to open and maintain these places, none of that kind of behavior should be tolerated. Nothing in any of my previous posts would indicate I support such idiocy. I may not want to take them out back and execute them (perhaps you do) but I also don’t think they should be coddled.

  8. The scams the assembly has been running on the taxpayers of Anchorage just continue to expand as the criminal racketeers find more avenues to launder and funnel money to support the ever growing number of “non profit” homeless industry enterprises. It would be interesting to see how many hundreds of millions of dollars have been appropriated by the assembly racketeers under the umbrella of “homeless”.

  9. Being a drug addict is a choice, Dawn, not an illness.

    One MADE the choice to take whatever drug in the first place. It was NOT forced upon them within almost every single case.

    How about NEITHER choice, within that the homeless exist within your back yard, NOR have a taxpayer funded room and board without earning that ability themselves, and yes, they are ALL employable within one form or another, be it the work of what was within a former existence chain gang, that is manual labor, such as sweeping sidewalks in the summer and shoveling sidewalks in the winter, cleaning ditches of trash, maintaining and cleaning parks and public spaces, maintaining lawns of neighborhoods during the summer as well as shoveling snow within neighborhoods during the winter. as well as, for trusted and monitored individuals, childcare for themselves and others at no charge.

    That takes care of 90% or more of the homeless and their usefulness unto the community paying for their own upkeep.

    As unto the remaining less than 10% that TRULY need the assistance that they cannot obtain upon their own, there should be the availability of services provided by mental health facilities such as API, as asylums, and a Clitheroe like establishment at the far western edge of Anchorage, beyond the airport, where the hopelessly inebriated and drug addled can live out their pathetic lives within safety, and without endagering the general public, as a peaceful place to die and be buried and forgotten, for that is what they obviously wish.

  10. Some may view this message to be a bit harsh, or without compassion. I can assure you, it is not without compassion, nor without sympathy nor empathy.

    This message is one from experience and observance, as well as from pragmatism.

    I have the unique experience of spending 20 years within the Transit Center as a customer service representative, and as such, have observed firsthand the progression of homelessness from 1986-1994 and from 1998-2010.

    Within the first 8 years, there began to build the homeless within the general community but said allowance of said such was more restricted, though the Covey Kids were beginning to make a more pronounced existence within the community support of certain Assembly members and their wives, which supported the allowance of existence of the Covenant House as well as the allowance of said Covey Kids within the Transit Center to exist as they wished, with no rules, and for Predators to take advantage of their prey.

  11. Many of us do know about addiction. Enabling does not work. Many of the people here have chosen this life style and had every opportunity to do something about it. I care about the mentally ill who cannot work or help themselves. I also believe in the truly homeless that no fault of themselves find themselves on the street. I assure you this is not what most of us are talking about. If not else then build a facility for addiction, arrest them and force them into treatment. What we are doing now is not working and has nothing to do with housing.

  12. Let’s see.
    We are going to take a bunch of vagrants, most of which are addicts and/or criminals, and give them a free place to stay adjacent to a neighborhood where children play. And, there will be no requirements to keep the drugs and booze out of the rooms.
    What could go wrong?

  13. Everyone of our rudely (I mean duly) elected representative on the City Council should have an EQUAL participation in the Democrat experiment of supporting and housing addicts, felons, sex offenders and violent sociopaths in their OWN districts, preferably in locations where it can do the most harm to their own voting community. That way their OWN voters that put these morons in office can share in the benefits they enjoy from their OWN voting decisions. Helping struggling folks, battered women, the mentally challenged, etc. is something any civilized community has no problem being willing to help with. But supporting violent, addicted deadbeats in a lifestyle of their own choosing is another matter.

  14. I have no idea, Brin.

    Do you?

    I would imagine that said number is very, very small, but again, it was their choice to imbibe, prescribed or not.

    And I know of which I speak, as I have undergone multiple surgeries, and chose the resultant discomfort over opioids.

    If I could do it, so could they.

  15. I struggle to keep my mouth shut and opinions to myself about all of this. How many city run units (apartments) will it take to get people off the street? The first question that should have been asked is “do we own this problem”? If you come from a village where nothing is required of you, spend a few months in a tent with 200 other drunks and druggies, a hotel room with a cot and hot water sounds lovely. Food stamps, health care and transportation on the bus system all provided. All you have to do is come up with a scheme to fund your booze and drugs. This may seem like a harsh view of the reality but look around. More hotel rooms will put more people into the system waiting for those beds. They will come in waves waiting for the freebies. I don’t care if you tell me I’m wrong. I am sick and tired of watching it happen.

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