The impending termination of the state public health emergency order and expected July 1 changes to FEMA reimbursement guidelines will terminate eligibility for “congregate sheltering.”

There is no grey area.

The Sullivan shelter, as a component of the emergency COVID-19 response, must close its doors on July 1.

The Sullivan operation, at a cost of approximately $1 million per month, has certainly helped control the spread of COVID-19.

However, the extraordinary price for the services provided – currently borne by taxpayers, as we wait for FEMA reimbursements, was always tough to justify.

But there’s a big silver lining.

The COVID-19 sheltering operations brought together countless individuals and organizations in support of solving the homelessness crisis in Anchorage.

We’re making more progress today than we ever have at any point in our city’s history.

I’ve heard a worrying amount of doom-and-gloom talk about our homelessness crisis in recent days.

The reality is that hundreds of new transitional housing units now exist that did not prior to the pandemic.

The work ahead is long, and no single entity will solve homelessness in Anchorage on July 1. One step at a time is how we do this.

These include 83 beds at the former Sockeye Inn for seniors and the medically infirm, 130 rooms at the former Guest House for workforce supportive housing, and 80 similar rooms at the Aviator Hotel.

This fall, the Salvation Army will be reopening their earthquake-damaged facility on 48th Avenue with an additional 68 substance misuse treatment beds.

Perhaps most significantly, the Municipality will be taking a direct role in the homelessness crisis with the planned opening of the navigation center this fall.

This 150-bed combined shelter and homelessness navigation center will provide an entry point into the system for hundreds of individuals in Anchorage who don’t know where to start.

Case managers will work diligently with clients who have lost their homes or are at risk of losing their homes and assist them in successfully reintegrating with society.

Even more exciting – a second, privately run navigation center is expected to open next summer.

The progress made in the past year on this issue is historic.

Never before have so many people come together to address the homelessness crisis in Anchorage.

The work ahead is long, and no single entity will solve homelessness in Anchorage on July 1. One step at a time is how we do this.

It’s the Downtown Hope Center offering to take a few more clients during the summer and feed everyone in need for lunch.

It’s Weidner Apartment Homes and the Rasmuson Foundation teaming up to purchase a building from Bean’s Café to operate a navigation center on Third Avenue.

It’s Catholic Social Services and Covenant House and Rural Cap and other community partners working to make sure every client no matter their age can get services and shelter.

It’s the Salvation Army overcoming earthquake damage and bringing crucial treatment beds back online.

It’s the community around the new municipal navigation center agreeing to compromise by reducing the proposed shelter count to 150.

All these seemingly independent steps have put us one step closer to getting a handle on this humanitarian crisis.

They give me faith that despite vast political and ideological differences, we can address this community problem together.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Mayor Bronson: So many are joining forces to address Anchorage’s homelessness crisis

Dave Bronson
Dave Bronson serves as Mayor of Anchorage.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    It’s funny how I’ve seen other cities that take ATCO sleeping and bathroom buildings and put up a bunch of them on a 4-5 acre area and solve the homeless problem and it doesn’t cost a ton of money. Why can’t Anchorage smarten up and do the same. Once a week go in pump the toilets and pick up trash. It’s a simple problem solved once and for all. It also has all the people in an area where first responders aren’t running all over the city looking for people!

  • DoneWithIt says:

    Again – we are creating a protected sub class of people by “accomodating” illegal behavior. We didn’t have the depth of these issues when law enforcement enforced the very laws that were put in place to control and manage this issue – vagrancy, loitering, public intoxication, littering, trespassing, etc.
    Bronson, instead of pulling a “Guilianni” and cracking g down on illegal public behavior is instead encouraging this behavior with PROVEN failed policies that only encourage and exacerbate this public eyesore.
    Bronson – grow a spine and enforce the laws. Maybe take the 10 patrol cars that are hassling hard working, tax paying commuters on the Glenn Hiway every day and clean up this dirty, filthy, unsafe city.

    • Sharon Alice Turner says:

      Finally : true common sense. We need not one more law or ordinance! Enforce the laws! Last summer, many hours of testimony were given (video taped) by our citizens. Those that most healed, changed, uplifted vagrants ALL required some WORK, some give to get. The best was a kind of “ranch” near, but not in Anchorage. With services, yes, but tools and chores to do.. earn your way to sobriety, and self respect by using your talents and gifts. Golden Lion type locations are doomed! They are part of the problem ! The ‘culture’ of homelessness is like a club of people who bring each other down. They are outside, waving and luring you back to that circle of “Friends”.. intoxicating. Stop failing. Get smart. Stop doing what just attracts the behaviors.

      • DoneWithIt says:

        Sharon – you are dead on.
        Bronson is adopting FAILED POLICIES that have failed EVERYWHERE they have been implemented, everywhere.
        Libs, please name one city where these policies have been adopted and the homeless, loitering, vagrancy, public intoxication, littering, trespassing, and shoplifting went down – just one.
        You can’t – because without exception these failed policies exacerbate and increase the dirt, filth, lack of safe streets the city has become.
        Bronson – wake up! Please.

  • Penny Seliger says:

    Thank you Mayor Bronson for trying to help a population out that has grown significantly since Mayor Sullivan left office. The prior administration/assembly did very little and now the taxpayers in this city have to pay back to FEMA for their mistakes.

  • NAV says:

    ACCOUNTABILITY is what is needed. Don’t work don’t eat so many signs in so many places help wanted adds and yet all you hear is we can’t get anyone to work