Statement for immediate release by homelessness partnership members:
First Presbyterian Anchorage LLC
Weidner Apartment Homes
June 21, 2022
Anchorage, AK – As funders and partners, we are involved and invested in a public-private partnership to address homelessness in Anchorage. With the help of expert facilitators, we have supported a collaborative process to advance the citywide plan to end homelessness, safely stand down the mass care shelter at the Sullivan Arena, and quickly move people to stable housing. We appreciate the efforts of all the parties. Through collaboration the best solutions emerge to benefit our most vulnerable residents and the community at large.
We believe the solution to homelessness is housing, not shelter. That is what we have been working towards. However, our focus shifted to a more immediate need during the pandemic — assisting the municipality in providing safe shelter for vulnerable Anchorage residents who were unhoused.
The effort that was showing such promise has experienced a serious setback. On Friday, June 17, we were informed by Tom Barrett and Belinda Breaux that they will be withdrawing as the independent facilitators for talks that had created a shared path. Mayor Dave Bronson, members of the Anchorage Assembly and private funders had reached agreement on specific solutions including a facility for those with complex needs, a place providing workforce and supportive housing, a treatment center and a temporary shelter and navigation center. The facilitators said the collaboration framework requires “willingness to engage on tough issues with transparency, candor, accurate data and credible information.” Unfortunately, both facilitators feel they are no longer in such an environment. We are disappointed that they felt they could no longer help the group work together to ensure those experiencing homelessness are “safe, secure and on paths to better lives.”
It is essential that all parties remain committed to ending homelessness in Anchorage by adhering to our jointly created plan.
The need for collaboration could not be greater with the impending June 30 closure of the Sullivan Arena mass shelter. The acute need to find housing and shelter for those being displaced calls out for a collaborative solution. This is also the time for deep partnerships and commitments to increase affordable housing units through pending hotel conversions.
We are pleased that Mayor Bronson informed us that he will advance the $3.4 million previously committed by the municipality for the purchase of the GuestHouse, as agreed to in the facilitated plan. We have all contributed significant resources to the acquisition of this facility. As a result, 150 people are now transitionally housed instead of living in shelters or on the streets. Once the purchase is completed, these residents can lease the units as permanent housing. This is a prime example of how partnerships can improve the lives of individuals and our community.
We still believe that solutions can be achieved through cooperation. We will consider participating in future efforts designed to create a public-private partnership to address homelessness.
Contact: Lisa Demer, firstname.lastname@example.org