Alaskans rally to support homeless services
Anchorage homeless shelters and services are worried Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s cuts will do more damage to some of the most helpless here in Alaska.
The Legislature approved just over 12 million in funding for homeless services across Alaska but it was reduced by the governor's vetoes by just over 1 million.
Officials across Anchorage say these cuts will have a detrimental effect on the community and Alaskans’ way of life.
In Anchorage, homelessness is something you can see on street corners and in the parks. People in Anchorage came together Wednesday evening to rally and camp out on the Delaney Strip to show their support to the homeless, as well as the shelters and services.
Taylor Donovan from the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness says the cuts impact 10,000 to 11,000 people across the state.
"At any time in Anchorage, we have 100 campers,” Donovan said. “We are looking at 500 to 600 campers now."
Donovan says these cuts take a huge hit to the services provided to the homeless. Lisa Sauder at Bean's Cafe says they will be feeling the cuts right away. They're losing $127,000 in funds, the only state or federal money the nonprofit receives for the program.
"We want to be able to provide a meal to everyone who needs one," Sauder said. "We have to look at how we can do it safety. That's expensive and it takes staff it takes people. "
The Brother Francis Shelter is losing more than a million dollars in funding.
"Unfortunately it looks like we’re going to have to reduce the number of beds we are able to provide on a nightly basis from 240 to 100 so 140 people will go unsheltered every night,” program director David Rittenberg said. "I don't know where they are going to go."
He says these cuts leave them with a difficult decision on who to help and not to help with possible deadly consequences.
"We have a lot of people with a lot of challenges and have health issues, are frail and some of those people left out in the cold they will not survive," Rittenberg said.
Brian Wilson, Executive Director of the Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, says the cuts affect more people than just the homeless.
In Nome, the Nome Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) operates the community’s only cold weather emergency shelter. According to a press release, NEST will need to close its doors as a result of the budget cuts.
“These cuts are targeting domestic violence victims, homeless children, low-income seniors and other marginalized populations," Wilson said.
In all, Gov. Dunleavy vetoed $444 million of the state’s operating budget.
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