City will no longer use 2 Anchorage rec centers as emergency homeless shelters, mayor says

a man behind computers
Anchorage mayor Dave Bronson listens during an Anchorage Assembly meeting on July 12, 2022. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson says the city no longer plans to use two recreation centers as emergency shelters this winter, following community pushback.

Bronson announced the reversal to the Anchorage Assembly Tuesday night. 

“We have listened to concerns from the public and Assembly members, and will be working with the emergency shelter task force to find appropriate shelter options that meet the needs of our city’s most vulnerable,“ Bronson said.

The move comes less than a week after the Bronson administration said it would soon close Centennial Campground, which has become a makeshift homeless camp, and would provide transportation for those people to go to the Spenard and Fairview rec centers.

The city still plans to close the campground on Sept. 30. But now, according to Bronson spokesman Corey Allen Young, it will use other aspects of its sheltering plan to offset not using the rec centers. Those include the planned East Anchorage navigation center and shelter, the Aviator Hotel in downtown and up to 20 portable buildings. Officials say the portable buildings could house between 10 and 12 people each. 

The Assembly is set to take up an ordinance from the mayor at their next meeting on Sept. 27 that would change city code to allow the use of the portable buildings. The city has not said where the buildings will go.

Young said the Anchorage School District is providing the portable buildings for free. In a statement, ASD Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt said the transfer of the buildings is subject to school board approval.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.