Anchorage searching for homeless beds
Anchorage's homeless coordinator Nancy Burke is scrambling to find beds for people experiencing homelessness. She estimates the city could use an additional 100 beds, a situation getting direr, considering the colder temperatures Anchorage has experienced recently.
The problem intensified last week when Bean's Cafe announced it could no longer accept overnight guests. For years, the cafe functioned as an overflow shelter in the winter, primarily run by Catholic Social Services but last year by Bean's itself. Director Lisa Sauder said the non-profit recently lost its insurance coverage, and the board of directors decided it was no longer possible to function as a part-time shelter.
"It really is kind of outside our mission, which is primarily focusing on the hunger component and making sure people are fed and referred to services," said Sauder. "We did it, it was great, but it's not something we can maintain forever, we just don't have the resources to do that."
One thing Beans is doing, is partnering with other non-profits who do have beds to offer. On Monday, the agency bussed nearly a dozen people several blocks to the Partners Reentry Center on Barrow Street. That agency normally helps people getting out of prison to get back on their feet, but Director Cathleen McLaughlin said it could also help people experiencing homelessness.
"We have to figure out how to get people who are being turned away from Brother Francis every night some sort of stable and warm housing," said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin said the agency has contracts with more than 120 landlords and can offer people rooms and apartments. People who qualify for those beds must have some sort of criminal conviction in their past and have to be willing to accept services like help finding a job, getting on disability or just furthering their education, according to McLaughlin.
Burke said the City is also looking into other partnerships that can get people housed. She said the most immediate needs the City is looking for, is a spot that could function as a warm-up center for times the temperatures get really cold.