Assembly approves Golden Lion, Sullivan as housing options

Anchorage Assembly approves two new shelters
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 10:22 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly voted to approve an unnumbered resolution allowing the use of two city-owned properties as homeless shelters in a special meeting on Monday night.

The resolution calls for the use of the former Golden Lion hotel and the reopening of the shelter at the Sullivan Arena.

It also increases the number of beds available for residents at the existing shelters run by Brother Francis and Covenant House, as well as a new Midtown shelter run by Bean’s Cafe that has yet to open.

The Brother Francis shelter will see 20 more beds added to their facility, while Covenant House will add another 25 beds for residents.

The use of the former Golden Lion hotel will offer up to 85 housing units, while the Sullivan will be congregational housing for an additional 150 people.

Also approved tonight were resolutions providing sole-source contracts enlisting Henning, Inc. and Bean’s Cafe to provide care at those existing and future housing facilities named in the plan.

The issue of determining which facilities to use as a shelter for the municipality’s homeless population was heightened after the Sullivan Arena’s ceased to be used as a temporary shelter, which occurred on June 30.

Opposition to the use of sports facilities has been strong among public commenters at this meeting as well as the one held Sunday afternoon for those unable to provide public comment on weekdays.

Supporters of the Anchorage Hockey Association urged the assembly to consider the needs of that sports community, which lost significant time on the ice when the Sullivan converted to use as an emergency shelter.

Assembly Member Jamie Allard of Eagle River was the lone dissenter on tonight’s votes, and echoing the concerns of many members of the hockey community, was displeased with the idea of using the Sullivan as shelter once more.

“We need to get the Sullivan back up and running, we need the revenue,” Allard said.

Allard went on to say that unhoused residents need to follow the rules of shelters in order to receive care provided by the city, a break from fellow members of the assembly who support following a “housing first” protocol that eschews treatment or addiction status in favor of providing housing to anyone who needs it.

“If they truly want help they will go to these facilities that have rules, if they don’t want help, their rock bottom might just be death. Because this is America and they can decide what they want to decide,” Allard said.

Under the current plan, the Sullivan Arena will be the first facility to close and return to use as a hockey arena.

The plan could still be vetoed by Mayor Dave Bronson, but in a statement made via email prior to tonight’s meeting, the administration indicated they were willing to move forward with the task force’s plan.

“After the Assembly passes their Emergency Cold Weather Sheltering Plan, my administration will perform all the necessary internal due diligence associated with the proposed plan,” Bronson said.

“If the plan is determined to be an effective method for emergency cold weather sheltering, we will work with the Assembly on developing the appropriation,” Bronson said.