Spenard hotel for vagrants nearly touches education hostel for village students - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, June 15, 2021
HomeThe 907Spenard hotel for vagrants nearly touches education hostel for village students

Spenard hotel for vagrants nearly touches education hostel for village students


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. 

America’s Best Value Inn backs up to a hostel that houses youth from rural Alaska.

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.

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Written by

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

  • What could possibly go wrong? I still say put some mancamps on Fire Island and send them there.

    • Surely we have some location farther way to set up a quality work camp.

  • I see bible and religious references posted here on occasion. Here’s one that applies more directly to the politically oriented. It’s from Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’, written in 1513. Chapter 19 suggests that it might be alright to be completely contemptible however, above all else a politician should avoid being despised and hated.

    F Berkowitz.

  • Please, have you ever stayed at the longhouse? The spenard district is riddled with crime, and I have on more than one occasion heard gunshots early in the morning when staying in the area. Kids stay there because it’s cheap and price and in my opinion quality. Hookers frequent the area. The mayor is probably right in selecting the trendy spenard district has a location for his homeless camp.

    • Excuse me? Before you judge something that happened in your past experience, know that my school district has spent millions of dollars renovating the longhouse. Us “kids” are here because we would like to get credit to graduate high school. I am a student who is staying at the longhouse – now known as Kusilvak Career Academy – and I do not see the things that you have experienced. Putting students at even the slightest risk can jeopardize a lot of people. I do not live in Anchorage, I am from a small village from the Lower Yukon School District and this program has helped me and many other students in more ways than you could possibly imagine. So before you decide to say anything negative, maybe you should come and see exactly what is going on inside Kusilvak Career Academy.

  • Recall…….

  • Lets buy some houses by the Berkowitz residence and put them there.

  • Indeed, send Berkowitz and the Anchorage Assembly along with the drunks, druggies, and dealers to Fire Island. Free accommodations, grow food, dry-out, legislate their own Berkowitz budget without taxpayer funds. The view from a tented ‘South’ restaurant would be lovely. Bon Appetit, Adios!

    • Give em notepads and pens to count the revolutions on each wind generator. Report results to environmental wackos each hour.

  • If the state gives the homeless people a big enough PFD check, they will be able to rent or buy a nice place. Money should go directly to the people rather than filtered through the state government.

    • That’s not going to happen.

    • This is, like, one of the stupidest things I have ever read.

    • Eric S, you must be very young to have such an immature outlook. The majority of the homeless people are homeless by choice because they prefer to use their money (social security check, PFD, etc) to buy drugs/alcohol. If they get food stamps, they trade those off for drugs/alcohol. The homeless who are homeless through no fault of their own (not drunk or addicted to drugs) can usually find help to find housing.

  • Perhaps the city should buy them each a one way ticket down to Berkowitz’ home town.

  • Why not use Berkowitz’ restaurant. Put them up there. Nice place on G Street where they can beg on the street corner.

  • What a plan. Rather than use The funds to help those who are losing their business eases and homes, thereby lowering tax revenue and out to g people who contribute to the tax base and their community, lets shelter, feed, clothe the chronically homeless. Let’s give them access to free alcohol and drugs, too. Why not? Everything else is free for them. And those of us taxpayers who are still left will foot the entire bill.

    Mayor will probably move out of the state, or perhaps we should follow the money? Does he or any of the Assembly members have a financial interest in any of those buildings.

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