Muni move to clear homeless camps near Bean's draws backlash
The Municipality of Anchorage has launched a new program designed to increase safety near the Brother Francis Shelter and Bean’s Cafe -- but one area resident calls the initiative a tremendous failure.
On Tuesday the muni launched a new Mobile Intervention Team designed to improve safety near the homeless hotspot on 3rd Avenue. The team includes a mental health clinician, outreach workers, Anchorage Fire Department crews and APD's Community Action Policing Team.
“This is just the next step in this entire big process to help people get to the right services and into housing, so the community doesn't have camps in greenbelts and on sidewalks,” said municipal homeless and housing coordinator Nancy Burke.
Campers were given a deadline to remove their things. Officials have also outlined a new, larger perimeter around the shelters where they will no longer be allowed to camp.
Robert Cupples manages vacations rentals on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Hyder Street. He's had his fill of homeless campers on the property, and says this week the problem escalated.
“Within 24 hours, three camps popped up within 100 feet of my property," Cupples said, pointing at a small camp hidden by a snow dump. "I just watched somebody crawl out of that pile of mess a little bit ago.”
Cupples' properties are just up the street from the Brother Francis and Bean's.
Bean’s deputy director, Kim Kovol, says camping in the vicinity near 3rd Avenue and Karluk Street had become a major problem. On Dec. 13, a man was found dead just west of Bean's and Brother Francis, and two people were fatally stabbed near the cafe in separate June incidents.
“We are glad to see the area cleaned up, we really are, but clearly our neighbors are concerned,” Kovol said.
Neighbors like Cupples says the city has pushed the homeless off the sidewalks and right up the hill to the west, closer to his properties.
“This is not what success looks like,” Cupples said. “The fact that they have pushed these campers onto people’s private property, that is a tremendous issue”
Burke says the plan was not to move campers into nearby neighborhoods, and that those who have won’t be staying.
She says next week the Mobile Intervention Team will work to remove camps that have moved west along 3rd Avenue. She also says people can call APD’s non-emergency number, 907-786-8900, to report homeless camps and have them removed from their property.
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