Assembly member would like to see homeless shelter in Midtown
Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel is proposing a budget amendment that includes a new homeless shelter in Anchorage — one that is separate from Brother Francis Shelter.
Zaletel says the amendment funds day shelter services at two locations: Brother Francis with capacity for around 100-150 people and another unknown location with capacity for about 150 people. Zaletel hopes it will be located somewhere in Midtown.
"Done in a very mindful manner. My vision is secured outdoor area; no neighborhood impacts," she said.
Zaletel says Midtown would be a good spot because it's located between two trail systems where many homeless people are found. She expects it to take some of the pressure off the Brother Francis area, which is next to Bean's Cafe.
"Speaking with the library social worker, there are folks who are homeless going to the library who don't travel downtown. So if we can get some Midtown based services, I think we're going in the right direction," she said.
Zaletel would like to see the shelter operate both day and night. She hopes more shelter space will help solve the city's problem of homeless camps that many people complain about.
"Currently camping is illegal in our pubic spaces but we are unable to enforce those laws or do much about it if there's not a place for someone to go. This would provide, I believe, sufficient space for the count we currently have," she said.
Zaletel expects the measure to reduce homelessness by connecting people to community services to help them get back on their feet.
The nearly $2.4 million price tag would be funded from $250,000 in existing funds for day shelter in the Anchorage Health Department budget, as well as less than 1% in budget cuts that would not be applied to the Anchorage fire or police departments. Another option would also exempt the library and health department.
The budget amendment is expected to be debated and voted on as part of the municipality's budget Tuesday night.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include the departments that would not be affected by the proposed budget cut.
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