The Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness has hired Anchorage Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel as interim executive director, effective immediately.
Zaletel currently represents Anchorage Assembly District 4, a midtown area. The group calls her a subject matter expert on fair housing and homelessness. In her role as chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Homelessness, she has been a negotiator on behalf of the Assembly to the Office of the Mayor on issues surrounding homelessness and the mayor’s plan to form up a navigation center to help people get back on their feet. She has been hostile to that concept in favor of her own ideas.
Now, Zaletel will have to recuse herself on the Assembly when it comes to voting on any issues involving homeless policy or appropriations and will step down from her role as chair of the Committee on Housing and Homelessness.
The nonprofit coalition receives local, state, and federal funds, as well as support from private philanthropy. One year ago, a Jeff Bezos foundation, Day 1 Families Fund, awarded the coalition $450,000. Last year, the group had a budget of $1,240,895.
The board at the homeless coalition may be appointing Zaletel as interim for now, in order to allow her to serve the remainder of her term on the Assembly. They may require her to step down from the Assembly, rather than run again, since the Assembly is now spending well over 40 hours a week in meetings, which leaves little time for Assembly members to hold down full-time jobs. This is an indication that she does not intend to run for reelection.
Zaletel’s move to the nonprofit organization was expected; those close to the matter said the organization wanted to wait until the recent special recall election was over; Zaletel won it handily with help from New York funding from a labor union political action committee. That result was certified by the Assembly on Tuesday.
The former director of the homelessness coalition, Jasmine Boyle, resigned in early November to take a position at another nonprofit in Anchorage.
Kathy Henslee has filed for the District 4 Assembly seat; that election is in March and April.