homeless pic

Enormous public outcry over Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s plan to set up government-run homeless shelters in several Anchorage neighborhoods has spanned three days and will continue on Tuesday, July 21.

Assembly members have already listened to scores of upset residents articulate unending passionate public testimony against Berkowitz’s idea to erect shelters in areas not zoned for the purpose.

The mayor wants to use $22.5 million from federal CARES Act funding as well as funds from the pending sale of Municipal Light & Power to Chugach Electric to buy four properties for homeless sheltering and treatment. These include the Bean’s Café building in downtown (1101 E. 3rd Ave.), the former Alaska Club site (630 E. Tudor Road), the Golden Lion Hotel (1000 E. 36th Ave.) and America’s Best Value facility (4360 Spenard Rd.).

In order for this to happen the municipality would typically go through the process of rezoning sections of Anchorage that are not legally designated for homeless shelters. The municipality normally starts the process at the Planning and Zoning Commission and then it goes before the Assembly for approval. Berkowitz wants to fast-track this and bypass the usual steps.

He has been criticized for providing few details on how his programs would work and how the municipality will ensure the safety of nearby neighborhoods, businesses, houses of worship and cultural facilities while addressing the needs of the homeless.

The July 21 meeting begins at 6 p.m. The public can testify in-person or by phone. Those who wish to testify by phone must send an email to by 2 p.m. on July 21. Emails should include a name, phone number and the agenda item (AO 2020-66) set for testimony. The clerk will phone the number provided, and each person will have three minutes to testify.

Written testimony can be sent to by 2 p.m. on July 21. This should include the agenda item number. These comments will become part of the meeting record.

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4th day of public testimony set for Anchorage mayor’s hotly contested homeless project

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.