Targeting faith-based organizations, Assembly is planning to expand zoning and require licenses for homeless shelters - Must Read Alaska
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Targeting faith-based organizations, Assembly is planning to expand zoning and require licenses for homeless shelters

The Anchorage Assembly is ho​​sting two town hall meetings to hear from the public about two critical ordinances comi​ng before the body on Thursday, June 8. One of the ordinances would have the effect of shutting down faith-based shelters, according to Ralph Nobrega of the Gospel Mission.

The town halls will be held on June 1 and June 3, from 6-9 p.m. at the Dena’ina Center in downtown Anchorage.

Proposed Ordinances to be discussed during the town halls:

AO 2021-54 Title 21 currently prohibits homeless shelters in all zoning districts, except for the PLI (public lands and institutions) district downtown. The ordinance change would allow shelters to be developed in B-3 (general business) districts, which are located along major streets to better provide access to public transportation and services for homeless persons. The shelters may back up against residential neighborhoods. This ordinance is sponsored by Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson.

AO 2021-55: This ordinance is aimed at shutting down shelters run by religious organizations, such as the women-only Hope Center in downtown Anchorage, which does not admit biological males.

Any organization that didn’t fall under Title 5, the equal rights ordinance that applies to some shelters, would be covered by the new shelter licensing ordinance. Although the proposed ordinance does not specify that shelters cannot run gender-specific operations, the ordinance will allow for future regulations that do specify that shelters cannot be gender-specific.

In addition, the ordinance mandates that shelters must not turn away clients because they are inebriated or high on drugs, but must instead provide them treatment.

Some faith-based shelters are not set up to do drug treatment, and thus the volunteers make judgment calls about who they think they can accommodate for the night.

Also under the proposed ordinance, volunteers, including youth who volunteer as scouts or church workers, must have background checks.

The Gospel Mission survives on donations alone. Nobrego, who has been with the organization for several years, says the ordinance could shut down the mission within seven days, and he plans to testify about the ordinance, which is sponsored by Assemblymembers Chris Constant, Meg Zaletel, and John Weddleton.

“We’ve been doing this for 50 years and have never taken a penny from the municipality, state, or federal government. We have 8,000 people who support us because we know what we do and how we do it. The last thing the city needs to do is to create a license for no real reason. This will be a detriment to the homeless because there will be fewer shelters available,” he said. “No one will start a shelter under this ordinance.”

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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

  • These little demons on the ASSembly have no right to interfere in any religious activity. Period, when they send their Gestapo Agents to shut it down just chase those Demons out too! It’s time for everyone to take a Stand and say NO MORE!

  • The Assembly should not consider any changes to existing regulations or ordinance until the People Elected Mayor is sworn in. Queen Bee unelected Mayor does not understand We the People and elections have consequences. We will steer Anchorage in New Direction. That is what we voted for.

  • This is ridiculous!

  • The Assembly may want to consider that even if it passes the ordinance limiting faith-based shelters, it would fall to the administration of Mayor Bronson to enforce the ordinance. And that may not happen, dear Assembly “people.” Elections have consequences.

  • I have such a hard time believing anyone with a reasonable and sound mind could come up with these sort of ordnances……it feels like the City Council really doesn’t live here and have the best intentions. I follow what they are doing, tho I live in Palmer….I’m afraid that mentality will spread here. I hope Bronson cleans house !!!!!

  • Reasonable and sound mind assumption is your mistake LJ. These petty little tyrants are evil.

  • Not surprising to see the mostly communist assembly attempting to sabotage the in coming mayor. This ordinance will do nothing more than create more homelessness and put vulnerable women on the streets.

  • I suggest the Muni put a homeless shelter in Weddleton’s Rabbit Creek Hillside area. Put one next to Ethan Berkowitz’ home. Put another across the street from Forrest Dunbar’s residence. And let’s not leave out Andrew Halcro–put one in his yard!

  • There is a general rule with leftists. Your first and foremost relationship must be with the State.
    .
    Therefore, religious institutions, which infer a deep personal relationship with God (whichever one you choose to worship), are antithetical to that mandatory relationship with the State. The leftists will work to erode and destroy all other relationships. Family, romantic, and neighborhood relationships must be secondary to the all important relationship to the State.
    .
    That goal is what drives this push to place homeless facilities in family neighborhoods. The first goal is to shelter the homeless, but the bonus secondary goal is to destroy conventional neighborhoods.
    .
    Final note on leftists. A conservative sees government as a necessary evil. The leftists sees it as a goal. This assembly has demonstrated clearly they want to grow government, and impose their will across Anchorage.

  • What a shame. Weddleton has become a first class mess in teaming up with Constant, Rivera and AQ-D – and it’s not the first time. He also endorsed Dunbar. I’d say his judgment is severely flawed. As someone who regularly donates to the Gospel Rescue Mission, what this triad is doing displays the utmost in ignorance and selfishness. The Rescue Mission makes a personal, heartfelt effort towards returning their clients to a productive and salvaged life, not just providing a place to park ones belongings so that they can run the street all day only to come back inebriated for another meal and a mattress. They’re showing that they won’t be meeting in the middle once Mayor Bronson assumes the helm.

  • Zalatel and Constant are demonic! the whole rest of their liberal Assembly colleagues are followers. No need to pray for those two, prayer for them would be useless. We know where they are going when they completed their life purposes here. As for Wellington, Dunbar, Rivera, Quinn-Davidson, LaFrance, Peterson, and Perez keep praying they might find the independent courage to do what is right in world thats gone totally wrong.

    Thats just totally wrong. We want to help the homeless not impede the services they rely upon.

  • I don’t assume anything…..but these evil little tyrants got voted in……..

  • LJ
    I Didn’t vote these crazy people in office.
    It’s the crazy people voting.

  • DITTO !

  • This is the face of evil!

  • Democrats are not looking for solutions to human suffering, they just want jobs for Democrats who will vote for Democrats so they can hire more Democrats…

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