City Building Sale Could Displace Non-Profits
Discounted rent at John Thomas Building would end
ANCHORAGE - Several organizations that help low-income and homeless people could find themselves homeless because of their low income.
Mayor Dan Sullivan is proposing to sell the building in which those organizations have long enjoyed a discount on rent.
The John Thomas Building on Third Avenue long has housed the Older Persons Action Group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other non-profits.
Now they face the prospect of moving by March 31, if the Anchorage Assembly puts the building on the market to help erase a budget deficit.
"I know that money is a bottom line, but I happen to think that people in the community are a bottom line, and I think we need to stick together, and I think we need to remain here so we can continue to be a benefit to the community," said Wanda Greene of the NAACP.
The non-profits say if they're forced into privately owned quarters where they would pay market rents, they'd cut back on services.
Said Sandra Camery of Amble T. Cavalry Senior Services: "We're kind of a last resort agency for seniors, so what happens when we're not here?"
And it's not just about the rent. The organizations here say they have a synergy at this location, serving as a hub both for the non-profit community and for the low-income clients of nearby facilities, such as the soup kitchen and the Brother Francis Shelter.
"You may have somebody that goes to the older person's action group that may have some landlord-tenant problem, and they may feel that it's a problem that's obstructing their civil rights, and they're referred to the NAACP," Greene said.
Said John Hanrath of Intervention Help Line: "Our clientele is right here and to move out of this area, which we'll have to do, because there's no place around here that I'm aware of that's renting right now; I just don't know what we're going to do."
And there's a question of whether selling the building would actually save the city money.
"Because there are a lot of people that will be hurt, and who's going to help them? Maybe, most likely, it'll fall right back on the muni,” Camery said.
The non-profits say if they move, everyone will lose.
The ordinance to sell the building is scheduled for a public hearing on October 9.
The mayor said through a spokesperson, "We hope that the buyer of the building, if approved by the assembly, will support the non-profits and continue to let them lease there."