Sullivan Arena is emptied of homeless, as an urban campground absorbs them and others squatting in fire-prone woods throughout Anchorage

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The homeless living in the woods and others who have parked themselves on cots at the Sullivan Arena for over two years have been moved to a campground inside city limits, where they are being given free space for their tents, where there are dumpsters, showers, and a full-time security guard. There is a food truck from Bean’s Cafe parked at the campground, handing out sandwiches. The administration of Mayor Dave Bronson has waived all camping fees, providing a 14-day fee-free site to all who need a place to camp. About 62 camping spots are now taken, with room for up to 6 persons in some of the camping spots.

The leftist members of the Assembly and the mainstream media are incensed with the temporary solution. The Assembly leftist majority wants homeless people housed at the Golden Lion Hotel property at 36th Ave. and New Seward Highway, a building the Assembly purchased before Bronson became mayor. That would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to give people free hotel rooms. The other problem with that site is that it’s nearly next door to a Jewish daycare center and education campus, and many who are homeless have drug, alcohol, and mental health problems.

“I think we just respect the campers who choose to do permanent camping,” said Assemblywoman Jamie Allard, acknowledging that many homeless want to live out of doors, rather than inside a shelter. “The city cannot keep the homeless in the Sullivan Arena after July 1 and is already on the hook for nearly $80 million that FEMA probably won’t reimburse for. That was not supposed to be a shelter; it was a non-congregate pandemic facility during Covid.”

It became a shelter after former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz hijacked the arena nearly two and a half years ago, and then acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson took no action to clear the arena.

Allard noted that people living in the campground are taking more pride in their areas, and that the dumpsters are helping to keep the place more tidy than what happens out in the woods, where campers end up living in piles of filth and use makeshift honey buckets or just defecating where they can, leaving it all behind when they move on.

The Anchorage Daily News has focused on the bear problem at the Centennial Campground. Some campers are keeping food inside their tents and it’s apparent that bears will be a challenge. Some will probably have to be killed if they get too aggressive.

Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar is not happy with the campground in his district and said in committee and work sessions that the only reason the mayor chose it is because Dunbar ran against him during last year’s mayoral election. He believes it’s political retribution. Dunbar, who was just reelected in May, is abruptly running for the Alaska Senate, and seems worried the campground will be used against him in campaigning.

But Allard says camping in the summer in Alaska is actually pretty normal. “As a person who was in the military, I camped at the Black Spruce campground on JBER for a while, until my military quarters were ready. People were allowed to camp for up to four months.”

The campground solution is the result of the Anchorage Assembly leftist majority purposefully not working with the mayor to provide a navigation center that would help homeless people get the social services and referrals they need. Since Bronson took office last July 1, it’s been a year of negotiations with the Assembly, which essentially blocked Bronson’s every attempt to provide a path forward that would be sustainable and return the Sullivan Arena to its intended functions. Talks broke down earlier this month after the mediators said the two sides would never agree.

Then came the dry season. Anchorage has been in a drought this summer, and fires near Dowling and Elmore were started in homeless encampments, similar to ones that dot the woods throughout the city. That fire expanded quickly before it was doused with the help of state resources. For the Bronson Administration, this is now a matter of public safety and he has had police start moving people out of the woods and into the campground for their safety, and the safety of others. No fires are allowed in the Centennial Campground.

Many political observers point out that the the Sullivan Arena and the navigation center is a proxy fight between grassroots Democrats and Republicans. Republicans have gained ground in Anchorage elected seats, winning the mayor’s seat and adding a conservative to the Assembly from South Anchorage.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Did I hear Forrest almost say, “Not in MY backyard!”
    Not surprising. Fences and walls for politicians. But no fences or walls for the peasants. Rules for thee, not for me. Masks for you, but I am an exception. I think we all know the words to this song too well.

  2. Maybe tax payers should just dump trash in the streets and the city will pay to pick it up like they are for these non productive vagrants. Maybe if we claim to be squatting in our homes the city will pick up our mortgage payments too. Seems same same fair. Idiot liberals

  3. What the muni has been doing so far for the homeless ain’t working; instead we see that the problem is growing. Cease ALL state and muni welfare, except for the truly handicapped and indigent (those without family support). Charge the PFD for drug and alcohol EMS services rendered to the derelict vagrants. PAY the minimum hourly wage, from state and muni funds, for meaningful work that is performed in the public service. Some of us spent many hours last month in voluntarily picking up roadside debris, and I notice that we barely scratched the surface of the litter problem, so there’s one job. Will this plan require an amendment to our State’s constitution? And while we’re fixing that constitution, let’s have some meaningful reform of the moribund criminal justice system. For starters, substitute Singapore-type lashing for incarceration, on a voluntary basis. Our civilization is unraveling for lack of sound judgment and spine.

  4. So they want to move homeless to Golden Lion, for which at the time the ordinance was considered and passed, it was declared and promised and written into the ordinance that it would be purchased only for a treatment center and would never, ever be used for a homeless shelter. Just lies on top of lies.

    • You must have neglected to understand.. it WAS USED FOR A TREATMENT.. A MUCH BETTER-NEEDED monoclonal treatment center….Not alcoholic treatment. COVID was running RAMPID, and a greater need had to be met. AND besides it is right across the street from a school of young children and ANY body wanting to sacrifice our school children need to RE-think their priorities. Many of the Assembly Members owns the very buildings or has high stakes in the monetary income that Anchorage people are paying in high taxes. If we’d stayed with the transitional tent on Tudor, it would have been cheaper in the “long hall” and less fire hazard, BUT NO.. The Assembly needed to keep their income coming in for their OWN pockets.

  5. There will be fires, it takes fire to fire up a crack pipe. Where do these Assembly members live? We can’t set up some camps there? The Assembly members can show us how it’s done. How to feed, clothe, clean up, and maintain order. i would love to observe and learn.

  6. Implode the Sully; my understanding is that the place will require millions to rehabilitate and it has few uses anyway. Then: Doze the site flat, put down a gravel pad and install a roof. Then folks -most of whom will never move on – can camp there. The police can permanently assign three units which will save money with centralization of the problems. Well-funded organizations can provide food and toilets. All of this would be less comfortable but would save money and not cross over into “enabling” the homeless.

  7. Our homeless no longer remind me of homeless, they remind me of the
    bible’s term Gleaners, they gleaning at
    the edges of landowners fields looking for
    tidbits. God cares about the poor, widow – single mom, fatherless, orphan to warn and command the wealthy not to harvest to the edges not taking full harvest but to leave for
    the poorest. The rich do that when they
    choose to give some
    of what families would spend on luxuary to faith based missions who by
    God’s direction are more successful than css and other non profits. You know! Our anch gleaners like Ruth in bible do need to take what life offers and work whether its picking up litter, hotel employee, gas, grocery, fast food crew. Our gleaners can’t be too proud, they
    must be
    humble as Ruth to find
    a field to work to provide for herself and naomi. their job selections are narrow our gleaners can’t be picky and gluttoney, as the rich can’t just spend all on self and family and gluttoney.

    • “……..God cares about the poor, widow – single mom, fatherless, orphan to warn and command the wealthy not to harvest to the edges not taking full harvest but to leave for
      the poorest………”
      I have yet to hear or read of a single homeless person in southcentral Alaska starving. Not only that, they don’t even have to go out into fields and harvest the leftover wheat and grind it. Moose meat is delivered to Beans regularly. Sandwiches. Soups. The problem is not food. Moreover, the problem really isn’t housing. I drove through Centennial Campground the other day. There are numerous small tents erected there. Uniform make, model, and color………IOW, purchased and erected there by the muni. All they have to do is show up, zip the flap open, and get in. And when it gets cold this winter, the muni will be browbeaten until they find heated shelter for these people. And, yes, they will continue to come. Anchorage is the destination for those in Alaska who won’t work or care for themselves. But all society is on the hook for is food, shelter, and water. Providing that as inexpensively as possible is both desired and wise. As long as God is providing heat with the sun, tents, water, and sandwiches is perfectly fine. If these people want more, let them work for it.

      • I’d unfortunately like to add it is public state policy to develop Alaska by pretty much delivering funds to Annnnnncreeeeeeech’s outstretched paws 🐾 😀 to the detriment of the other half of the state as per the WEF/Ancho rage Asssembly agenda ya know? BTW, it’s been this way since 1959. Have a happy day. 😊

    • Dave Ramsey has good advice for anglers in his financial books you and Naomi might humbly enjoy sidelineing into.

  8. When will Bronson grow a pair and stop trying failed solutions to the homeless problem – that have failed everywhere else they have been tried – w/o exception.
    The Solution.
    Without exception, enforce the following laws that are on the books – loitering, vagrancy, trespassing, littering, public intoxication, shoplifting, assault, rape, and no panhandling.
    Take the 10 cops that are on the Glenn Hwy every day, harassing the hard working tax payers commuting into Anchorage and redeploy them to solve the homeless problem.
    Bronson, clean this dirty, filthy, unsafe city up now – its why you were elected. Act.

    • In answer to you first question/sentence.. THE SOLUTION: WHEN THE ASSEMBLY STARTS TO LISTEN AND STARTS TO WORK WITH MAYOR BRONSON AND STOP FIGHTING ANY OR ALL HE PROPOSES OR WORK WITH HIM NOT AGAINST HIM. THEY SPEND ALL their time fighting all that he suggests/proposes.. It’s always THEIR WAY, not a combine effort.

    • He’d like to. Problem is, the Politburo will override anything he tries then sue him.

      But unlike our feckless Governor, he pushes back constantly and publicly wherever he can. And never stops fighting.

    • Come listen my cheeeerdrin and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. T’was the eighteenth of April in ’75; hardly a man is still alive who remembers that famous day and year. He said to his friend…

  9. Oh sure, the taxpayer is $80 million in the hole, but it is all about Dunbar….please.
    There is compassion and then there is entitlement. The more money we spend the more entitled the homeless community seems to become. One should also wonder how many of those millions of dollars the city spend on this problem, actually ended up helping individual homeless persons and how much ended up in the pockets of the non-profits. In the past our “homeless coordinator” never had an answer for that.

  10. The nasty nine have spent 160 million on what ? this problem of wasting , hiding , missing money has gone on since 2015. AS for the new campers in centennial , they are doing quite well. Watching the bears with them now. The BEARS are not the ones doing the smoking. ONLY YOU can prevent Forrest HIRES.

  11. I had to laugh this morning at KTUU news coverage of this story and their use of the terms “clients” and “residents” – Call them what they are……. bums and leaches!

  12. We have islands out in the Aleutians that have old buildings that nobody is living in. Send them out there, no drugs, no alcohol, nobody but themselves to depend on. Let them grow crops, fix up their living areas etc..without all of the handouts and coddling, they might just regain their sense of purpose and learn some skills..why not try this? nothing they are doing now is working

  13. Dunbar always thinks everything is about him. Sheeish. And he is against homeless being in his backyard. He voted against the Tudor Navigation Center–a building that the administration and assembly both supported and planned diligently to put together a new idea to help with this pesky problem. Dunbar will always be known for dirty politics and favoritism.

  14. There is a correlation between governmental spending and a resultant outcome.

    The more that government spends upon a ‘problem’, the larger the ‘problem’ grows.

    Let us look upon the last 30 years within this so-called homeless issue.

    Has not the problem grown within direct correlation unto the governmental funds spent upon it?

    One must wonder if all governmental spending were to cease as to ‘solve’ the problem, the ‘problem’ may very well nearly solve itself utilizing only funding ‘outside’ of governmental interference.

  15. I come for the propaganda, but stay for the vicious comments from the great conservative Christians from around Alaska. Well done, crew–you’ve shown the deep understanding you have of Jesus’ teachings. Fitting since all of the proclamations of upholding the Constitution are almost invariably in support of authoritarian, unconstitutional behaviors and individuals. A regular melting pot of hypocritical nuts who only seem to posses a vary limited vocabulary (regardless of all of the words they use). Great job, MRAK.

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