The buses started leaving the Centennial Campground Saturday morning and about 60 summer campers arrived at the Sullivan Arena, where cots and totes awaited them. The summer of having fewer homeless encampments littering the city of Anchorage has ended, and Mayor Dave Bronson has reopened the Sullivan for those who want to come in from the cold. Temperatures in Anchorage are reaching the low 40s this weekend.
The municipality hoped to resettle dozens of the homeless campers today in what appears to be a smooth operation.
Mayor Bronson has been trying to complete his homelessness mitigation plan, and keep unsafe encampments from redeveloping around the greenbelts and streets of Anchorage. But the Anchorage Assembly has refused to allow the mayor to complete the hub of his plan, the navigation center, which is a one-stop shop for homeless people to access shelter, services, and a path forward for their wellbeing.
The campers, who have been spending the summer free of charge at the Centennial Campground, are those who have not found shelter on their own over summer and who will accept coming in from living outdoors. Not all of the campers will come in, as some prefer to live outdoors.
Anchorage Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar warned on his Twitter account that the mayor was about to declare a civil emergency, but it was fake news. No civil emergency was declared. Dunbar lost in his attempt to become Anchorage mayor in the 2021 election and has been nursing his political grudge ever since.
Earlier in the week, the mayor declined to open the Golden Lion Hotel for homeless shelter. The Ethan Berkowitz Administration purchased that hotel with proceeds from the sale of Municipal Light & Power, but an ordinance on the books prohibits its use. The Assembly, however, seeks to violate its own ordinance and wants the mayor to put homeless into the building, which is not occupied and needs renovation work to be habitable. Neighbors and local preschool operators object to the use of the hotel for vagrants.