Referendum filed to stop city from using COVID funds for Berkowitz homeless hotels


A referendum application was filed with the Municipal Clerk today to prevent the Berkowitz Administration from using the CARES Act funds to buy four buildings around Anchorage and turn them into services and rooms for Anchorage street people.

The application would put on the April 6 ballot a question to voters to decide whether the action of the Assembly on Aug. 11 will stand.

The Wednesday decision took $12.5 million from the CARES Act funds the city received form the federal government through the State of Alaska and would purchase four buildings around town and then roll out services and shelters to be paid for somehow, in ways certainly not disclosed to the public yet. The rest of the $22.5 million for the buildings would come from the sale of ML&P to Chugach Electric.

Former Mayor Dan Sullivan was one of the 10 signatories on the referendum application, which now must be accepted or rejected by the Clerk’s Office within 10 days.

If accepted, then the proponents of the repeal of AO66 would have to collect about 7,500 signatures, or 25 percent of the votes cast in the last election.

The group backing the referendum passed the hat last month to raise money from homeowners in various neighborhoods in Rogers Park, College Village, Heather Meadows, Geneva Woods, and Spenard. The effort was coordinated with grassroots participants, many of whom are new to the political process.

The signature collection effort will be conducted by the same group, said a source close to the network of neighbors.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Treasury told the Berkowitz Administration in no uncertain terms that the use of CARES Act money to buy the buildings is not following the intent of the Federal CARES Act, which is intended to help bridge economic hardships felt by homeowners, renters, businesses, and municipalities, but is not intended to solve preexisting problems or pay for projects that have nothing to do with the economic and health crisis resulting from the pandemic.


  1. You can find a place to put the homeless, or you can leave them out on the street. Which way do you want to go? Or do you just want them to disappear, like the coronavirus?
    Eventually people will decide that it’s time to get real. Or not.

      • Excellent idea! They can pitch their tents and use his backyard as a toilet instead of dirtying Anchorage’s street and parks with their human waste. Put a garbage can outside so they can dispose of their empty liquor bottles and used up needles. A win/win for Anchorage!

        • He better be careful and not ban the use of drugs or alcohol or they simply won’t stay in his back yard.
          Just like the other places here in town with 100+ open beds that are not used.

    • And what about the intent of the funds to help those impacted by covid. The funds, as the U.S. Inspector General made clear, are intended for covid relief ONLY. Any other use would be illegal. Do you want Anchorage in an expensive legal tussle with the Feds?
      The homeless issue is valid, but a pre existing issue and must be addressed with other funding to be in compliance with Cares.

    • A bit of deflection? This issue is about misuse of funds intended for a specific purpose, and also completely ignoring the residents of Anchorage that live there, work and pay taxes.

      What will happen once those buildings are acquired with the misused funds, and down the road large sums of money will be needed to operate and maintain them, as well as care for the residents? This isn’t a ‘one time purchase’.

    • Really Greg? That is the extent of the issue to you. Leave them on the streets, or provide shelter.

      Have you thought that between those two options there is a multitude of actions that can be taken, some of them might actually address the root cause of the problem, instead of just applying a band aid.

      So, how about we all get real here, and start asking the difficult questions, like “Who are these homeless? Why are they here? Where do they come from?” And how about we as a community take steps that have not been proven time and time again to increase the number of homeless?

      But, hey. If you think there are only two choices, house them or leave them on the streets, I am going to vote for leave them on the streets. Housing them will turn Anchorage into the next San Fran or Seattle.

  2. Thank god a voice of reason! We’ll get a chance to vote on this, please don’t waste yours! It’s clear after last nights assembly meeting, after acknowledging all the community concern & disapproval, that majority assembly members do not care about the hardship businesses, renters, mortgages, are dealing with and are more than willing to give this cares act money away to the least impacted. While additionally committing the rest of this tax-paying community to supporting the Annual 8+ million in operating expenses. IG to the rescue with a dose of sanity! Thank you!

  3. Must you live in one of the affected neighborhoods, or can anyone in Anchorage sign the petition? I’ll gladly sign and give a contribution to keep it going!!!

  4. On Monday night between 7:00 and 8:00 my wife and I parked near the Captain Cook Hotel and walked about eight blocks down 4th Avenue, and then returned on 5th. If it wasn’t for the people who have no place to go but the streets, the downtown area would be empty. When Dan Sullivan was mayor he spent tens of millions on the port remodel project that proved to be a complete failure. He cut the budget for cops. He ignored the homeless problem and dumped a big turd on Berkowitz. And now Sullivan’s back for another shot at stardom, wearing a silly tee shirt he proudly designed late one night after too many beers. He’s like the drunk guy sitting at the bar watching football who keeps complaining loudly about the play selection — not helpful, and very annoying. Only the lonely pretend to care what he’s shouting at the TV.

    • You think the Port was a Sullivan fiasco? How cute.

      And, ignoring the homeless seemed to be an improvement over the Berkowitz plan. I work downtown, and the homeless were not anywhere near as much of a problem as they are today. In fact, it was quite pleasant downtown during the Sullivan administration.

    • You can have your issues with Sullivan but if you think the Berkowitz admin has handled ANY of this properly, pardon me, but you are nuts.

    • I stopped the Port Project shortly after taking office and discovering that the previous administration had spent $300 million on mostly shoddy construction. I downsized the scope of the project and had it re-designed for better earthquake stability. I also sued the contractors and the federal agency who was supposed to have oversight of the project. But, you probably knew this and just like being a hater. And, the police budget grew by millions during my tenure, after we fixed the fiscal mess left behind by my predecessor. Just the facts.

    • Everything you say is a lie except maybe sentence 2. You must be a democrat. Once they tell a lie twice it becomes truth.
      BTW the Port fiasco belongs to Begich and Sheffield, two prominent democrats.

  5. I G has spoken. No means No. We dont need a referendum. What we need is for these funds to go exactly where they were intended to go. To small businesses and others who are loosing everything. Give it to the people who get up every day and earn it. This is not a question to put to the voters to decide threw imaginary mail in ballots. It has already been decided!

    • If AO 2020-66(S) goes away because of OIG input, then the ballot application to repeal goes away also. If the administration and assembly bring the proposal back with a different funding source and pass it again, then a new ballot question application will be submitted to repeal that version. As long as the administration and assembly refuse to include any law enforcement and personal accountability in their plan and as long as they refuse to work with stakeholders throughout Alaska for a more comprehensive solution that doesn’t dump the expense and impacts solely on Anchorage residents, the opposition to the mayor and assembly’s approach is not going away.

  6. How can a resident get in touch with this group? I’d like to support/participate in the effort. Thanks!

  7. These efforts by Berkowitz and the assembly are perfect examples of the Homeless Industrial Complex, where big money back room deals are spreading around illegally obtained funds against the public’s will, hidden as “Social Justice” and trying to show the libs care more, but all they really care about is the big money they are distributing to big business. More lies from the left.

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