HOMELESS NEED TO BE SPREAD ACROSS ANCHORAGE, COMMITTEEMAN SAYS
A resolution will come before the Anchorage Municipal Assembly at its June 12 meeting to make it the policy of the municipality to disburse services for the homeless throughout the community, rather than have them located primarily in the east downtown and Fairview areas, where Assembly member Chris Constant says they impact his neighborhood unfairly.
Constant took a moment out of the Committee on Homelessness’ meeting on Wednesday to decry the racist policies that dump homeless people in his district.
Constant’s neighborhood is overrun by the homeless, he said.
“People who live in the downtown recognize that the massive majority of these facilities are located here. The massive majority, not a simple majority. Now to the point of we should take this off [the agenda], because the services are there because it’s convenient, again the history lesson,” he said, jabbing his finger at Federation of Community Council representative Nikki Rose. “We have the system that we have now because of racist policy that we have from the 1930’s 40’s 50’s and 60’s.
“We changed the rules and we took away the right to enforce legal discrimination. But it became de facto discrimination.
“And the discriminatory policies we have now, we have neighborhoods outside of Anchorage driving all of their poverty, all of their suffering, and all of their sickness into one part of town,” said Constant, who is known as a liberal on a liberal Assembly.
“In fact, 20 years ago, when Mr. [Charles] Wohlforth sat in the seat I’m in, they passed a law that said those facilities have to be downtown. We’re now undoing the racist policy of the past. The discriminatory policy of the past. It’s fine that it’s introduced and we have this debate. Because. I am going to continue to let people know that redlining is over. Steering is over and we need to equitably distribute these services across this municipality,” Constant said.
Had Constant just accused prior assemblies of being racist, including by name one Charles Wohlforth, who served for six years on the Assembly in the 1990s and who is now one of the most liberal members of the media as a columnist for the Anchorage Daily News?
Constant’s comments were in response to a request to table and reconsider the resolution, a request made by a member of the committee, Nikki Rose, who said that making services scattered across the community could negatively impact people who need access to those services, and that the idea deserves greater scrutiny.
Concern that homeless will establish even more camps and then die in the cold, unable to get to services, is something the resolution doesn’t seem to consider.
The resolution was submitted by Suzanne LaFrance and Felix Rivera, with help from the municipal attorney. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the resolution on June 12 at the regular Assembly meeting of the whole.
In 2009, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation rolled out a homelessness plan that promised to end homelessness in Alaska within 10 years. At the time, homeless in Anchorage was counted at 3,305.
Today’s Anchorage estimate is 3,135, about one percent of the population.