Overwhelming opposition to mayor's plan for vagrant hotels across Anchorage - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, April 15, 2021
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Overwhelming opposition to mayor’s plan for vagrant hotels across Anchorage

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The speakers kept coming late into the night on Tuesday and the Anchorage Assembly will take more testimony tonight about the mayor’s plan to house vagrants and treat the drug-addicted in hotels and other facilities across the neighborhoods of Anchorage. They were passionate, prepared, and undaunted by the sometimes hostile questions of Assembly members Chris Constant and Forrest Dunbar.

If public testimony on A0 2020-58 ends tonight, the Assembly will vote on the plan to rezone a massive area of Anchorage to allow vagrant services in family neighborhoods, without having to go through the Planning and Zoning Commission. The meeting is at the Loussac Library at 5 pm.

That’s just the first part of the ambitious plan that few have actually seen. Two more ordinances involve purchasing buildings and starting a major social service undertaking, all paid for with federal COVID-19 funds.

The vast majority of speakers have opposed the plan, in spite of a concerted effort by the city to get social service sector workers to testify in favor of it.

Prior to Tuesday evening, the breakdown on the testimony was 75 percent opposed:

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is not taking this opposition lying down. It’s his last eight months in office and he wants to deliver something on his promise to solve homelessness.

On Tuesday night, there were more social workers and nonprofit representatives testifying in favor of his vagrant plan, although they were still heavily outnumbered.

The Mayor’s Office and the homeless coalition have been spending dollars to try to bend the curve of public opinion, pushing Facebook messages to people they think will come and testify on the mayor’s behalf.

Ad buys on social media are now in the thousands of dollars: A sampling of the ads that are currently running on the Facebook feeds of hundreds of thousands of Anchorage “likely” respondents shows that the spend on these three ads alone is likely over $1,000. Other ads similar to these are now retired, but have run in recent days.

The optics are awful. Some Anchorage residents, and members of the Facebook Group called Save Anchorage, are hopping mad that the municipality would lobby social workers to testify in favor of the mayor’s plan to spend $22 million in CARES Act money on four buildings to use for homelessness services close to homes, schools, and daycare centers.

A few social workers did speak in favor of the plan on Tuesday evening but 90 percent of those favoring the plan appear to be employed by the “Homeless Industrial Complex.”

One man who spoke did not identify himself as an employee of the Rasmuson Foundation until he was questioned by Assembly member Jamie Allard about his employment status, when he admitted he works for the foundation. It was an awkward moment for the gentleman.

Another social service worker who spoke was actually in opposition to the plan.

Sherrie Laurie, executive director of the Downtown Hope Center, told the Assembly that around her facility, human and drug traffickers gather, and that those conditions can be expected to arise in family neighborhoods if shelters are placed there.

Laurie also responded to a question from Assembly member Allard, saying that she had not been notified about the plan to buy two hotels, an old Alaska Club on Tudor Blvd., and Bean’s Cafe, even though she runs a shelter that houses 70 women and her clientele would be affected.

When asked why she was not notified, she demurred and said she did not wish to speak about it publicly.

But Downtown Hope Center was at the center of a controversy when it would not allow men dressed as women, who call themselves women, to enter the facility and lay on the floor mats next to the shelter’s women clients, many of whom are traumatized by men.

The city’s Equal Rights Commission heard a complaint against the Downtown Hope Center to force them to take transgenders. The center, represented by now-Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, won that case. The mayor and Assembly member Chris Constant in particular are not friendly toward the faith-based center for women.

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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

  • Captain Cook Hotel? Sheraton? Voyageur? Sure……bring em in. Request Democrat mail-in ballots at front desk. Room service available.

    • Is there actually room service at the Voyager? Mush Inn doesn’t have any. The Homeless deserve the best, Ethan.

  • Excellent updates, Suzanne. Keep it up. Nice summary of Hope Center too. You get to see how the Assembly really doesn’t care for women as much as they care for the transgender folks. It used to be anathema to be accused of not caring for the safety of women. Now that takes a back seat to men trying to be women. So really, they are favoring men over women, which is now in favor again as long as he/she is sincere!

  • These ordinances will be passed against overwhelming opposition because the liberal/progressive/leftist majority on the Anchorage Assembly is omniscient. Just ask, and they will tell you how enlightened they are.

  • No to Homeless Hives!!!!!!!

    This is really about the conversion of Anchorage into a liberal democrat dump like Seattle or Chicago. Berkowitz has already gotten the murder rate to an all time high. If the assembly really cared about the homeless, they would get control of the empty correctional facility in Palmer and use it to house homeless. But no its aimed right at the middle class in Anchorage, encouraging them to move out if they don’t want to live next to a homeless hive.

  • What parts of town do Chris and Forrest live in? Anywhere close to these places? I bet not.

    • Or how about our mayor..who has become a disgrace to our city. And really doesn’t seem to care that small businesses are closing. Using care act money for purchase of old buildings when he could use available federal land. So disappointing he’s not listening to the majority of those he’s suppose to serve. He could quite possibly be thg he worst mayor our city has ever elected.

      • Lived in Anchorage for over sixty years and worked most of my life here until I retired, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Hear Hear! We’ve had some hum drum mayors over the years but this one takes the cake for the worst one … so far! He’s killing this lovely city we knew and grew up in.

  • How much has this mayor and assembly spent on this problem so far? Free places to stay and they can still get high or drunk?

    • The “special people” can vote when the harvesters show up with the mail-in forms.

  • In San Fransisco, in a COVID-19 funded isolation debacle, they housed homeless in hotels, but they still chose to be out on the sidewalks amongst the public during the day. When asked why, the replied, “we had to go find food.” So then they got room service. When they left their rooms again for the sidewalks, they said, “we had to go find alcohol” so they got alcohol delivered to their rooms. When found on the streets yet again, you guessed it, they got POT delivered to their rooms, all at taxpayer expense.

    This won’t end well.

    Search: Project Roomkey

  • Could this be where it all falls apart for Komrade Ethan? This was supposed to be the great, final, total, slam-dunk deal…

  • Could Berkowitz and/or family have a financial interest in these properties ?

    Just go away quietly.

    • Or how many of the administrators and advisors are using cannabis or who knows what in their “planning” sessions. As in “let’s have some good ole Woodstock, birkenstocks, and “imagine”. This is a good Alaskan summer for a Woodstock revival – rain, mud, feces, dope, and “you know” – just pipe in the psychedelic music (if you want to call it music)- Snort! Time to get a grip and honor the property taxpayers who are expected to fund this crap! Now!

  • Since 95+% of the homeless are Alaska Natives, take the money and use it to send them BACK to their villages, where their Tribal councils and corporations TAKE CARE of them.

    That is their job, NOT OURS. Also we bill the corporations for their tickets.
    Also tell the villages that we ARE NOT going to allow them to DUMP their problems on us.

  • We need to vote as if our life depends on it – in this day and age it does. Please get out and vote in every election. Your vote, at the end of the day (trite, I’m sorry) is the power you have. Please vote.

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