Proposed ordinance would shorten eviction time for homeless campers in Anchorage
West Anchorage Assemblymember Eric Croft said it's a question he gets asked all the time: "Why can't the city clean up homeless camps sooner?"
Croft has introduced an ordinance he said might do just that but admits the problem isn't an easy one to solve.
At a work session on the new ordinance on Wednesday at City Hall, Parks and Recreation Director John Rodda said camps have increased all over town, but the manpower to clean them has not.
"People expect areas to be cleaned up, but in doing so, we have to have the resources, and that means bodies," said Rodda.
Rodda said Parks and Rec. has funding for 10 paid employees to clean up homeless camps all over town. Even with the addition of court-ordered Community Service Workers. Radda said it's not enough. He added, they can't keep up with a Municipal website where people list the locations of camps, even though "we try to do our best."
Assemblymember Croft said he believes workers are getting to the camps, just not fast enough.
"It's happening, but it's happening so slowly it's not satisfying," said Croft.
Croft thinks one way to get rid of camps faster, is to give campers less time before they have to move out. His proposal would lower the eviction notice period required by law, from 15 days down to 10.
"We thought a 10-day period would have the results be more apparent to the public and it would force the results to actually happen faster," he said.
But even Croft said he doesn't want to pass an ordinance that doesn't have the resources to enforce it. There's also the question of whether people are made to move out faster, do they have a place to go? The city's Homeless Coordinator, Nancy Burke seemed to agree.
"We don't want to have something in place that just moves people around," said Burke, adding that the city is making progress on a long-term homeless plan and getting people out of camps is a part of that.
Croft called his ordinance "a work in progress" and said he expected revisions before it goes up for an Assembly vote, which is not yet scheduled.
One group that will be watching closely is the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, which has sued the city over attempts to shorten eviction notice times in the past.
"We cant commit to whether we are going to engage in any legal avenue before we see a finished product," said ACLU Spokesman Casey Reynolds.