ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — City officials say it's going to take more money to implement key projects in order to curb and ultimately end Anchorage’s homeless problem.
The Assembly Committee on Homelessness met Wednesday, and the takeaway was obvious: the city needs more money. The question is, where does it come from?
Committee Chair Felix Rivera says it’s time for the city of Anchorage to get creative with its coffers.
"It's time as a city that we begin to really seriously look at how we structure, how we fund these issues, and that we pony up as a city," Rivera said.
The city budget currently allots $500,000 for homelessness -- Rivera says they will need to more than double that. He’s requesting $1.25 million in 2019, and up to $2 million in 2020 and beyond. He says these amounts are necessary to implement Anchorage's Anchored home, a strategic action plan to end homelessness.
Rivera says he knows one surefire way to make a dent.
"These things could — it looks like big numbers, but it could be funded and resourced through an alcohol tax,” Rivera said.
Some other options involve making cuts to other programs, and the proposed amount needed to end homelessness, according to one Anchorage resident who attended Wednesday’s meeting, is a drop in the bucket.
The Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, which developed the three-year Anchored Home plan, identifies key needs:
- Abatement of camps near schools, parks and walkways through a coordinated effort between APD and Parks and Recreation
- Increased staff capacity for camp cleanup coordination
- Providing housing and support for those abated from the camps, including overflow shelters during the winter, and tiered housing for people with varying economic and healthcare needs
- Moving the city's Mobile Intervention Team from 5 to 7-day operations
Some of those in attendance at Wednesday's meeting expressed agreement with the goals of the project.
"Immediate, year-round cold-weather shelter expansion. Absolutely necessary,” an Anchorage resident said at Wednesday’s committee meeting. “And an ongoing process of means and development of shelter beds, real shelter beds, to enable us to deal with the need to have swift abatement of encampments."
Another Anchorage resident at the meeting said she is ready as a taxpayer to be the funding solution.
"Somebody has to pay for it,” she said. “It'll have to be us."
A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Loussac Library Assembly Chambers.
The assembly will vote on the budget Nov. 20.