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Homeless services coming to a neighborhood near you

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.

Chris Constant, Anchorage Assembly

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?

Charles Wohlforth

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.

The 2009 AHFC report is here.

 

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • His answer to the problem is to move them out of his hood.

    • Anchorage is facing a crisis. The Municipality provides no basic services for the homeless population and wastes resources cleaning up camps that may provide a band aide in one area but drives the problems to other areas. Just because the Municipality does not make toilet facilities available to the homeless does not mean they do not defecate or urinate. Our parks and trail systems are in danger because the homeless intimidate the rest of the citizens. The Municipality has immediate access to resources, at minimal cost, to address this crisis. The Municipality has 15 acres formerly occupied by the Native Hospital on Third Avenue that has been unproductive for almost 20 years. It is vacant and provides no tax revenue to the City. By opening its gates to campers, and providing them with regularly serviced portapotties, dumpsters and recycling bins, we can protect other public and private property and have a chance to compare the costs of providing these services to the current cost for police, emergency, health, clean-up, etc. Assemblyman Constant sees this as a racial issue with no solution and a problem he wants to distribute around the city. The plain truth of the matter is that there are services now available in Assemblyman Constant’s district that attract the homeless who will always be attracted there. It’s time the Municipality lessened the negative impact on the community including Assemblyman Constant’s district by providing adequate sanitary facilities for the homeless.

  • C’mon, you know what Mr Constant is referring to here.

    Jim Crow was once the law of the land, my inlaws went to four different Christian churches before they found one that would perform the ceremony. Why is that, you ask ? It was because he was of Native Alaskan ancestors and she was Caucasian.

    http://www.alaskool.org/projects/JimCrow/warrdeed.htm

    Know your history, Suzanne.

    • I know it is fashionable to be a victim and all but you don’t know what Jim Crow laws were. Racial/ethnic discrimination has been illegal in Alaska since the 1940s. Nothing in law would have prevented your in-laws from getting a marriage license or having a civil marriage. If you’re telling the truth, the choice of pastors not to perform a marriage ceremony was a personal choice, not a governmental action.

      “Jim Crow” laws were an often elaborate system of de jure discrimination, mostly against Blacks but in some places against Asians and Indians. Most discrimination against other minorities, e..g, the Irish, was de facto, not de jure. Likewise here in Alaska most discrimination against Natives and Asians was de facto, not de jure until discrimination was made illegal by the Territorial Government and the State government maintained and enhanced the ban.

      • Mr Chance, I am telling the truth my friend, why would I make something like this up. I’m sorry that it upsets you that discrimination was the norm in your happy little town, but it was. St Mary’s Episcopal did the ceremony, at that time it was just a tiny little cabin on what was the outskirts of town then, Tudor and Lake Otis.

        As a privileged white man, Art Chance, you obviously have a better handle on discrimination than most people of color, I’m sure.

        Your arrogance proceeds you, Mr Chance.

  • Typical response . Instead of solving the problem, spread it around. If they wanted to do something to help the homeless , there are many intelligent people in this community that can come up with a plan. For me, the road the Assembly is taking is making this community more dangerous Of course, it takes money and what group is willing to spend the money for the homeless to make it better from them. None that I know.

  • They’re already all over town. Stand in line at the Huffman Post Office and see – and smell – who you’re rubbing elbows with. I’m glad the railroad cut the trees back on their right of way near Oceanview because there was a camp in those woods for a time. There was a camp in that wooded area at Brandon and Old Seward but somebody brushed that lot and now it seems to be gone. It is common to see seemingly homeless people in John’s Park and in the wooded area between Mariner and Dailey.

    Fortunately, the area is close-knit enough that if someone is seemingly out of place they get noticed and Next Door has constant alerts for people prowling and rummaging around and many people have installed motion detector lights and surveillance cameras. Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before somebody protects their person or property and there is a tragedy. Of course the Chris Constant contingent will blame the residents not the stupid leftist policies of the current municipal regime.

  • I do read Mr. Constant’s comments as a backhanded effort to call the earlier Assembly, and Mr. Wohlforth, as “racist.” Interesting enough, a recent column by Mr. Wohlforth suggests that he views much of the nasty tone in political discourse as being racially based. Personally, I suspect that Mr. Wohlforth, like many on the Left, views just about EVERYTHING through the lens of race.

    IMO, so long as folks try to address issues using race as the principal measuring stick, we will fail to solve real issues. Mr. Constant and Mr. Wohlforth are not part of the solution; rather they are part of the problem.

  • You know how to tell if somebody is racist? They see race in every issue.

  • He’s not wrong, exactly. Recall the old ANMC was down on 3rd until 1997. The charitable services, for their clients, for good or ill, were co-located nearby.

    While the ANMC moved, the charities and their clientele stayed. Folks needing their services got shunted to them, defacto redlining that area for “the homeless” ever since.

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