WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG, NEIGHBORS ASK
One of the hotels that Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is buying for his “Homeless Hotel” plan is within spitting distance of the Long House, a hostel type dormitory for young people from rural Alaska who are in Anchorage to take part in job training programs in coordination with the Anchorage School District.
The Long House is at 4335 Wisconsin St, right behind America’s Best Value Inn & Suites, a sprawling hotel that faces Spenard Road. The hotel-like building is used by the Kusilvak Career Academy, which serves students in the Lower Yukon School District, whose hub community is Mountain Village.
Students take a 9-week course and earn credits from the Anchorage School District that can be applied toward graduation in the Lower Yukon School District.
America’s Best is one of the hotels that Berkowitz plans to buy through a shell game with various pools of money. Ultimately his plan uses CARES Act funds to purchase the heart-of-Spenard hotel for an unknown sum. Appraisers have been working on establishing a fair market value for the building. America Best would then be converted into transitional housing.
The omnibus plan to house vagrants plan includes the purchase of Best Western Golden Lion Inn in Midtown, which will become an alcohol treatment and transitional housing program.
That hotel is also close to a school operated by the Jewish community in midtown Anchorage.
Most of the opposition to the plan has centered around the Golden Lion, as well as the former Alaska Club building on Tudor Road, which is another part of the $22 million purchase. How these buildings will be operated and afforded by taxpayers has not been transparent and the Anchorage Assembly has faced heated resistance by hundreds of Anchorage residents.
But the matter of putting vagrants next to village youth has not been talked about much; Must Read Alaska was notified about the concern by a Spenard resident.
Yet another problem with the mayor’s plan, in addition to putting underage youth next to a homeless shelter, is that vagrants will have ready access to Lake Hood, where dozens of aircraft sit unguarded and could be vandalized or stripped.
Pilots contacted Must Read Alaska this week concerned that the aircraft using that aerodrome lake will no longer be safe from criminals and mischief makers who will be just one block away, housed with taxpayer funds in hotel rooms formerly used by tourists.
An application for a petition to repeal the ordinance that authorizes the plan awaits a decision by the Municipal Clerk and City Attorney, which is due around Sept. 16. A group of citizens opposing the plan has also raised funds for attorneys to get a temporary injunction.