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Fairview business leaders propose plan to treat public inebriates

By Lauren Maxwell 8:57 PM April 8, 2014

“No sell list” being considered

ANCHORAGE –

Should chronic inebriates be banned from buying alcohol?

A Fairview business group says that could help curb a growing problem not just in their neighborhood, but all over Anchorage.

“We are getting emails daily from different businesses in town asking how they can help because people are tired of having to deal with this,” said Heidi Heinrich, manager of the Lucky Wishbone Restaurant.

The restaurant has been located in Fairview for 50 years, but over time they’ve seen the neighborhood change, with more and more public inebriates. Heinrich says something needs to be done. Her group is proposing a comprehensive program that includes expanding treatment options.

“It starts out with the outreach and then detox, and the treatment and the job reentry and transitional housing,” Heinrich said.

Just down the hill at Bean’s Café, Development Director Staci Feger-Pellessier says the idea of providing more services would be welcome.

“Any more services that we can get that addresses substance abuse, we 100 percent support,” Feger-Pellessier said.

But getting chronic inebriates used to living on the street to buy into treatment could be the biggest hurdle. If funding for the project is approved, longtime treatment center Akeela House will offer more beds, but CEO Roselie Nadeau says there is no guarantee they’ll be filled.

“Treatment isn’t a panacea,” Nadeau said, who added that people can’t be forced to go into it. “We can’t say we’ve got treatment and these people will love to go in it. Not this population, they won’t love to go into treatment.”

The Fairview Business Association is lobbying the Legislature for funds.

So far a $5 million request is included in the capital budget recently passed by the Senate Finance Committee. Nadeau said she thinks programs are needed, but getting people to take part won’t be easy.

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