Golden Lion won’t open as planned, Sullivan may house 300
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The non-congregate shelter at the former Golden Lion hotel will not be open for housing on Friday as planned due to issues with the building’s condition.
In a memo obtained Thursday, Homeless Coordinator Alexis Johnson states that the Health Department — the agency responsible for homelessness services — has been made aware that the municipality’s Department of Maintenance and Operations would need “more than a week of lead time” to conduct repairs on the Golden Lion facility.
Johnson indicated that further cooperation between the Bronson administration and the Assembly may be needed to resolve the issue, and requested guidance from the mayor’s office.
In a letter attached to Johnson’s memo, Shawn Catherine Hays of contractor Henning, Inc. says that the necessary work at the Golden Lion includes repairs of bathrooms, replacement of batteries in carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms, emergency shelter licensure and rekeying the exterior and interior doors.
Until repairs are made, according to the memo, a fire inspection cannot be completed and residents will not be able to move in.
Henning, Inc. is asking that the Assembly temporarily increase the capacity at the Sullivan to 300 people while it prepares the Golden Lion for residents, but the company has not indicated when it would be able to complete the work or open the building for shelter. The company was selected by the Assembly’s Homelessness Task Force to provide services at the Sullivan and Golden Lion.
Under the task force’s plan, the Sullivan is only supposed to house 150 people, while the Golden Lion would house another 85 people.
Anchorage Assembly members Christopher Constant and Daniel Volland represent District 1 where the Sullivan Arena is located, as well as other shelters operated by Brother Francis and Covenant House. Both Constant and Volland are happy to see work finally being done to resolve the issues faced by Anchorage’s homeless populations, but worry that action must be taken quickly before problems escalate.
“For me, representing Fairview as a part of my district, I know how impacted that neighborhood has been, that community has been,” Volland said.
If followed, the Assembly plan would spread out homeless services so that no one community is overburdened. It also ensures that the Sullivan would be the first of the new shelters to close once adequate shelter or permanent housing is found for its residents.
“It’s a pretty tough decision to have to put folks back into the Sullivan, especially when we have an asset like the Golden Lion that could be used for housing,” Volland said.
Constant and Volland note that the Bronson administration has been cooperative with the Assembly on its current plan and hope that this indicates a future of collaboration between the two divisions of city government.
“We’re getting closer to a solution than we’ve ever been, with all of the hotels coming on as housing units, with the commitments that are continuing to grow with our community partners,” Constant said.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been to finding a system that actually is humane, doesn’t have people sleeping and dying in the mud, that gets people off of the streets and out of our doorsteps so that we can have our neighborhood park back, all of that. It’s coming.”
As temperatures continue to drop, Volland remains concerned about some of Anchorage’s most vulnerable residents.
“We all know winter is coming and we can’t have people freezing to death.”
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