Assembly to consider establishing organized homeless camps

An abatement notice posted outside the organized homeless camp outside Cuddy Park.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Homelessness has been an issue in Anchorage for some time, but this Summer there's been a trend of large organized camps forming in public parks. The city has been playing a game of cat-and-mouse all summer with these camps, clearing one park just to see them move to another. The game is getting old though, and people are starting to look for longer-term solutions, including the Anchorage Assembly.

Sunday, Assembly Chair Felix Rivera visited the two main organized camps in Anchorage to learn more about them.

“I learned that we have a huge issue in our city that we need to deal with,” Rivera says. “Really we have a short amount of time to deal with it before the Winter hits.”

He said forcing the camps to move every 10 days is a poor use of municipality resources, and the city should find a better way to help those experiencing homelessness.

“We have a lot of people who are in desperation because we keep moving them around every 10 days.” He says.

One possible solution he saw is quite similar to what the camps are already doing.

“The committee on homelessness soon will be referring this idea of organized camps to some of our commissions to explore how we can get an organized camp that’s blessed and endorsed by the municipality.” Rivera says.

Organized homeless camps like the ones in Anchorage offer something unique to those experiencing homelessness, something often sorely missed: a sense of community.

“What’s working is the camaraderie,” Rivera says. “The ability to talk to one another, to share lived experiences, and to get out of this mode of surviving on your own and really to be able to… start wondering what else can be.”

Rivera also made it clear these camps would not act as a permanent home for those experiencing homelessness.

“I think that would be part of a transition,” Rivera says. “So, getting folks into a camp where they can talk with other people… and then move on from an organized camp to whatever is next for that individual.”

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