Assembly Votes to Sell Building Housing Several Nonprofit Agencies
John Thomas Building home to NAACP among other nonprofits
ANCHORAGE - On Tuesday the Anchorage Assembly voted 6-5 to put the John Thomas Building up for sale.
The nonprofit agencies that have called the building home for decades say they’re disappointed with the decision but they knew it was coming.
“When there are budget cuts it seems like it's the poor people -- in our case our clients are lower income folks -- that have the brunt of the cuts. So I guess we weren't really surprised,” said Sandra Camery, Executive Director for Mabel T. Caverly Senior Services.
Camery says her organization has been a tenant for a decade. It pays less than $500 for 1,900 square feet. Camery says the group specifically moved to the John Thomas Building to save money on rent so it could expand its services. If it has to move, there won’t be enough to fund everything.
“We will have to downsize and get rid of the programs that cover about 65 percent of our clients. We'll keep the core programs that are grant funded but it will cost us twice as much money for half as much space,” said Camery.
The NAACP has also been a tenant for more than ten years and is now looking at options of where to go.
“We've been around for over 100 years, so while it's unfortunate that we may have to leave the John Thomas building, I can assure you that we will land somewhere and we'll keep on keeping the fight for the constituents of Anchorage,” said NAACP President Wanda Greene.
One possibility is for the nonprofits to get together to buy the building themselves. Donna Brooks with Nubian Sisterhood — an organization that helps low-income and homeless clients — said she thinks that would be the best option.
“We'd like to stay in this building for the reason it's centrally located, most of our clients are walk-ins, it's easy to get to, it's on the bus line. Yes, we'd like to stay here,” said Brooks.
The proposal to sell the building was introduced by Mayor Dan Sullivan. Brooks say she thinks the action shows a disregard for people in need.
“These are the most vulnerable citizens. He's supposed to be a mayor of all the people. He's not showing that he is. He's getting rid of a very important industry, helping those that the city fails to help or cannot help,” said Brooks.
KTVA put in several calls to the mayor’s office to discuss the decision, but did not hear back.