Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson last week unveiled the Municipality’s Emergency Cold Weather Sheltering plan for the 2022-23 winter. As required by Anchorage Municipal Code, the administration developed the plan to address emergency sheltering as temperatures drop. The plan includes four main components:
- Use up to 20 portable self-contained buildings provided to the Municipality, at no-cost by a community partner, as cold weather shelters. These 900-1000 square foot buildings will be placed at selected site(s) and have the potential to shelter 200-240 individuals.
- Develop a program to provide micro-grants to churches, non-profits, and organizations throughout Anchorage who elect to become emergency shelter sites. These micro-grants will be funded by the Municipality.
- Provide funding to extend operations at the Aviator Hotel as a non-congregate site through the end of December, with the option to extend through April.
- Use Municipality buildings as emergency shelter sites. The Spenard Recreation Center and Fairview Recreation Center have been selected as MOA emergency shelter sites. Using these buildings is the least preferred option identified by the Municipality. If portable self-contained buildings do not become available through necessary code changes, these sites will be activated from October – April.
The Bronson Administration will need the cooperation of the Anchorage Assembly, whose leftist leadership has a history of blocking everything and anything it can in order to hamstring the mayor. Leftists on the Assembly worked hard, but failed to get Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar elected mayor, and now find many ways to block the person who voters chose to lead the city. The code change needed will allow portable, self-contained buildings to be used as emergency shelters, and that requires Assembly approval.
Bronson said he also needs help from the Assembly to identify funding sources to continue housing the 200 people staying at the Aviator Hotel.
Additionally, with the city-funded Navigation Center expected to come online soon, another 150 beds, with the potential to surge up to 200 beds, will be available this winter. This purpose-built facility will play a key role in connecting individuals to services, treatment, job training, and permanent housing.
The Municipality will place individuals in municipal-owned buildings as a last resort if enough shelter space is not available in the community. The municipality has room for up to 100 women and children at the Spenard Recreation Center, and up to 100 single adults at the Fairview Recreation Center.
The entire Emergency Cold Weather Sheltering Plan can be found at this link. An application process will open soon for the micro-grant program. Churches, agencies, non-profits, and entities seeking to become an emergency shelter this winter can apply and learn more about their potential role in providing shelter at this link.
The Assembly leadership is developing its own competing plan, which signals it is reluctant to work in good faith with the mayor. The Assembly refused to work with the mayor on his plan in 2021, which included a navigation center that the Assembly opposed. The navigation center is a one-stop place for homeless to get many different services, including referrals to drug and alcohol treatment, shelters, jobs, job training, and reuniting with family.
The Mayor’s team will meet with the homelessness committee on Wednesday, but the Assembly does not meet as a decision-making body until Sept. 13. The normal date for temperatures getting into the 30s (39º or less) in Anchorage is Sept. 5. At this point, the nighttime temperatures are still in the high 40s.