• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 57s

Anchorage homeless evicted from illegal camps face many questions

By John Thain 11:20 AM August 23, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

“We got to get all the way out to Muldoon before it’s too late,” yelled the man as he dragged a heavy, wheeled suitcase down Chester Creek Trail. “I gotta get my family somewhere quick.”

He was walking quickly toward a pavilion in Valley of the Moon Park.

“We just need to get out of the rain right now.”

He calls himself Disciple and he’s been camping illegally in the woods near Chester Creek for “three maybe four months,” he says. Thursday night, Anchorage police told him and his fiancé, Aaron Hensley, they had to go.

Disciple dropped his suitcases in the pavilion, filled a water bottle straight from Chester Creek and took a sip, handing the rest to Hensley. It was raining and getting dark. They were only a few hundred yards down the trail from where police told them to leave. The park was closing soon, and they knew they were not allowed to sleep there.

So what now?

“That’s what we’re planning on doing is sitting here talking as a family to see where we will go next,” Disciple said. “We got a few ideas. But they are …”  His voice trailed off as he thinks about moving the six heavy suitcases through the night.

Using a handful of old cigarette butts, Disciple managed to roll a thin cigarette. He moved to Palmer from the Lower 48 in 2007 and has been off-and-on homeless ever since. He said he was just 16 at the time.

Twenty-one-year-old Aaron Hensley is Alaska Native.

“My mom is from Bethel, my Dad is from Kotzebue, and I was raised in Nikoli,” she said. She also has been off-and-on homeless for a few years. She prefers tent camping in Anchorage to the shelter. She doesn’t like many of the people who go to the shelter and she doesn’t feel safe there.

The light of day faded and the couple was still camped out in the pavilion. Disciple wanted to stay the night, risking another confrontation with police.

“My senses are saying they’re not going to be out here all night just to watch us,” he said. “We’ll be out at first light.”

Hensley was unsure of the plan but offered no alternative.

They lit a small propane stove and pull a thawed Tombstone pizza from a suitcase. Food is a priority — Hensley is pregnant.

“Right now it’s just ‘what would my family think?'” she said when asked how she feels about the pregnancy. She says her family doesn’t like Disciple, but she doesn’t care. “He’s the one taking care of me, he is the one who is there for me.” she said.

Disciple is still processing the situation.

“With you being pregnant, it puts a whole lot of stuff on our plate,” he said to her. “I’ll be honest with you, it scares the crap out of me. It scares me because I don’t know if I can be that father. I know I’ve got it in my heart to be a good person, and mentor, because that’s how my dad taught me. But what if I can’t support the money all the way properly?”

It’s one of many questions facing this young couple as they bed down in the pavilion for the night, just a short walk from the camp they were evicted from.

“It’s going to take us a while to find a new place, but I know we’ve got a good family around us,” Hensley said. “That’s about the only thing that matters. Family. We’ll find a place, we always do.”

 

Latest Stories

  • News

    Ferry riders on Southeast route to see new ticket policy

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 8:58

    The Alaska Marine Highway System is changing the way passengers pay for ferry sailings on a Southeast Alaska route starting next year. CoastAlaska News reports that ferry spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says those riding the small Lituya will pay for a round trip to go one direction and get a free trip on the way back. The […]

  • News

    Rescuers carry down skier after injury at Turnagain Pass

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 8:07

    A 36-year-old Anchorage skier was carried to safety after an injury at Turnagain Pass. Alaska State Troopers say emergency responders in Soldotna on Wednesday received a call that Brett Harvey had been injured on Seattle Ridge and could not hike down. The nature of the injury was not disclosed. The Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, Anchorage […]

  • News

    Alaska aims to ban smoking in public housing by spring

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 7:45

    The federal government is giving public housing agencies nationwide 18 months to implement a ban on smoking, but the state of Alaska is looking to crack down on tobacco much sooner. KYUK-AM reports the director of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Cathy Stone, says the state’s ban on smoking in public housing developments could take effect […]

  • Streaming sports gets easier as NFL comes to CBS All Access

    by Associated Press on Dec 01, 21:44

    NEW YORK (AP) – CBS says NFL games are coming to its CBS All Access subscription service, making it a little easier for “cord cutters” to watch football without a pricey cable subscription. Games aired on CBS will be available for streaming on tablets, to TVs and on cbs.com starting Sunday, if customers live in […]

  • State sponsors de-escalation training for officers

    by Lauren Maxwell on Dec 01, 21:14

    Being able to keep people calm is an important skill, especially if you work in a prison. It’s one reason why the Alaska Department of Corrections is sponsoring a four-day training in Palmer, where corrections officials and other law enforcement officers are learning to use their words instead of their weapons. The state is paying a Milwaukee […]

  • Lifestyle

    Alaska observes World AIDS Day

    by Bonney Bowman on Dec 01, 20:31

    Thursday is World AIDS Day, a time to remember those lost and support those living with the disease and commit to preventing its spread. The Four A’s, Alaska’s AIDS support group, says it currently serves around 260 people in Alaska who live with HIV or AIDS. The group also works to educate people about prevention and the importance […]

  • News

    Small oil company delays loan repayment after Walker cut tax credits

    by Liz Raines on Dec 01, 20:22

    Last summer, Gov. Bill Walker postponed hundreds of millions of dollars in oil tax credit payments for the second year in a row. “We just didn’t have the cash flow to fund those at this point,” Walker explained after announcing the budget veto in July. Now, companies that were counting on those credits say they’re feeling […]

  • News

    Demolition begins on old Iditarod Elementary

    by Shannon Ballard on Dec 01, 19:36

    It’s the end of an era for some in the Mat-Su Borough School District. The old Iditarod Elementary School is being torn down. For years, there has been talk about what to do with the building, once students moved into a brand new building down the road. For a while, the Wasilla Police Department was […]