Pilot program cleaning up homeless camps, helping displaced
The Municipality of Anchorage is using a pilot program to tear down homeless camps one camp at a time. It's about getting the homeless and their belongings to a safer place for place for themselves and the surrounding community.
Day one of a pilot program was Friday. It's using a 72-hour abatement notice for some camps which are considered to be a high priority -- meaning they're in residential areas. Non-priority cases usually allow for 10 days. That's the time for those to leave the camp and have their belongings stored.
With the 72-hour notification, it allows a month's time for storage at the solid waste facility in Midtown.
On Friday, the camp was located in the Spenard area and there was a safety incentive -- this camp was close to a daycare center.
"That's, of course, a factor and being close to a neighborhood and on a main walkway where people are every day a green space the public uses. Those are major areas for us," said Nancy Burke, coordinator for housing and homeless services.
Area resident Victor Smart says crime has been an issue.
"Theft in the neighborhood, cars broken into. I had a package in my car to fix a door lock and they broke in and stole the package before I got the door lock fixed," said Smart.
But it's not about simply kicking people off to somewhere else. Burke says they're exploring housing programs and in some cases hotel vouchers as well as shelters.
Smart says everyone shares a responsibility.
"It's a society thing we have to figure out o get them a place to go and get them on the positive," he said.
Plus, there's a nature angle. He says, by now, in the fall, beavers have shown up in the area which was being treated. Not this year though. Even in an urban area, he's hopeful Alaska's beauty gets a chance to thrive.
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