Lack of funding means no overnight beds at Bean's Cafe
Every winter homeless Alaskans have depended on shelters to help keep them warm, and safe during the coldest nights of the year.
On any given day, dozens of Alaskans camp outside both the Brother Francis Shelter and Bean's Cafe on 3rd Avenue.
Last winter, thanks to a city grant Bean's opened its doors for the first time at night to let homeless people come in from the cold -- but this year the cafe's executive director, Lisa Sauder, says there's no funding as of yet.
"So at this point in time Bean's will not be open for overnight shelter. Our only request is that [night sheltering] be revenue-neutral, being that our core mission is hunger and day shelter," Sauder said.
She went to say funding from the city would have added 50 more beds this year, giving 100 men a place to stay for the night. Right now the cafe is fulfilling its primary tasks, as Sauder continues to talk with city leaders about whether night-shelter funding might become available.
"If it does we would gladly provide that service, and we've had many discussions with the municipality and United Way about that," Sauder said.
Maureen Haggblom, United Way of Anchorage's director, says there is one number families in need should know.
"Families can simply call 211, and they will be given information on the family shelter system, and in addition to that after 5 p.m. they will be given a phone number for the crisis line," said Haggblom.
Several churches throughout town have partnered up with United Way of Anchorage to take in families who need shelter for the night. Cornerstone Church is one of nine houses of worship that are part of the emergency cold weather shelter system.
Angel Olivera, who runs the program at Cornerstone, said it offers an alternative to dedicated facilities like Brother Francis.
"I think a lot of families are not comfortable going into one of our set shelters in town," Olivera said. "So it's especially good for moms with babies."
Nancy Burke, the city's homeless coordinator, said Mayor Ethan Berkowitz's office has helped coordinate the distribution of funds from federal and local agencies to shelters, including about $200,000 in night-sheltering funds Bean's received last year.
Sauder said Bean's doesn't get any money from city taxpayers. The cafe received $65,000 in night-sheltering funds from United Way of Anchorage and Providence Health and Service; the rest came from fundraising efforts involving individuals and corporate gifts.