ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - They’ve camped out at Valley of the Moon Park since mid-July, advocating for homeless individuals’ rights to camp in public spaces. Now, Anchorage has served them an abatement notice.
Camp Here: Occupy to Overcome Homelessness is a group of homeless individuals and advocates asking the city to change camp abatement laws as one solution to the homeless crisis.
The group started on Delaney Park Strip, camping out in open opposition to Governor Dunleavy's budget cuts to homeless services. Their focus has since shifted to the Berkowitz Administration.
But those camp abatement notices have been served, and they have until this coming Friday to pick up and move.
"The abatement process does not work,” group organizer Justina Beagnym said. “You've seen that over the past few weeks or so -- us just having to pick up and move and move and move. That is the end goal: Something has to change."
Beagnym says the camp has demonstrated its ability to stay clean and sober. She says they will continue relocating until winter in hopes of bringing about change, but camp members have agreed to find shelter rather than camp out in the cold.
On Tuesday, Channel 2 spoke with several residents who use Valley of the Moon Park daily. Jazmine Zollner sat on the swings with her 6 year-old son Jayse. She says they’ve felt completely safe around the camp and even had conversations with some of the members – but she does question whether it would work as a long term solution.
"There are still concerns either after hours, after dark, in the middle of the night,” Zollner said, “or camps that are so hidden that are still a concern for safety."
Housing and Homeless Services Coordinator Nancy Burke says they’re treating Occupy to Overcome Homelessness the same as any encampment in the city. She says the Muni’s Mobile Intervention Team has successfully moved families from the Valley of the Moon camp into temporary housing.
"We can provide outreach and give them options, but we can't force people,” Burke said. “We're using a carrot-and-stick approach with camp abatement, and we've been able to get people straight from the camp into housing."
On Tuesday evening, Occupy to Overcome Homelessness discussed their plan for where to go before the city abates their camp this coming Friday. They would not share those details.
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