Assembly approves Bronson’s ordinance for $2.8M for Aviator Hotel shelter
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - At Tuesday night’s Anchorage Assembly meeting, Mayor Dave Bronson brought an ordinance forward to help the Anchorage Health Department continue its operations at the Aviator Hotel.
The city was paying for 166 rooms that sheltered 191 people experiencing homelessness while the Sullivan Arena was a mass shelter, but since the adult navigation center isn’t up and running yet, the city still needs it.
“We didn’t want those 191 individuals being kicked out onto our streets, you know, we already have enough of a humanitarian crisis on our streets,” Assembly Member Felix Rivera said.
The mayor asked the assembly for $2.8 million out of the alcohol beverages retail sales tax fund to not only continue the operation at the hotel but expand it to 225 rooms.
“A lot of this sheltering is a direct ramification of people being in some kind of homeless status,” AHD Director Joe Gerace said. “Nobody currently at the Aviator is there because they are currently dealing with recovery from COVID-19, which convolutes getting reimbursed. I’m not saying it can’t happen. But we have fought this and fought this with FEMA, hence being about $80 million unreimbursed.”
But some Anchorage Assembly members disagreed that the best place to pull money from was the alcohol tax fund.
Instead, the assembly voted to use money from the municipal areawide fund, moving the money from there into their COVID-19 fund, in hopes of being reimbursed later.
“Assembly members brought forward another version that takes it out of our, basically, our savings and says, ‘we’re gonna ask FEMA to reimburse us,’ just like we have been doing for all of our COVID-19 response,” Rivera said. “And so this is something that the Assembly has normally done when these types of requests for money come to us.”
Reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is only a hope right now, but not a guarantee.
The new funding allocation will be sheltering people until the end of September, and Rivera maintains the assembly will have a plan come September to help make sure that hundreds of people are not kicked out onto the streets.
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