Anchorage Assembly delays vote on using portable buildings as emergency winter shelters

an aerial view of several portable, self contained buildings
A diagram showing what the Bronson administrations proposed “portable, self-contained buildings” would look like. (Municipality of Anchorage)

One element of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s emergency shelter plan was delayed by the Anchorage Assembly Tuesday night.

Assembly members voted to postpone deciding on an ordinance that would allow for the use of portable classrooms for emergency shelters.

Midtown Assembly member Felix Rivera suggested the postponement. He says members of Bronson’s administration told Assembly members that several portable classrooms the city got for free from the Anchorage School District wouldn’t be usable this winter.

“The earliest the administration believes it could be used is the winter of ‘23, ’24,” Rivera said. “So I don’t feel like we are in a position where we’re in a rush to approve this.”

After about a month of discussion, the Assembly agreed to an emergency shelter plan Monday night that uses the Sullivan Arena, as well as housing at the former Golden Lion hotel. 

The portable shelters were part of a multi-tiered emergency sheltering plan from the mayor that included using the proposed East Anchorage navigation center and shelter and providing microgrants to local nonprofits.

The ordinance on portable buildings was postponed to an Assembly meeting on Oct. 25. Members Jamie Allard, Randy Sulte and Kevin Cross voted against postponing. 

Assembly members broadly supported accepting the portable buildings from the school district, noting that they could be used for non-sheltering purposes, such as storage.

The Assembly also approved an ordinance that would prohibit the use of community recreation centers for emergency shelters. Bronson’s shelter plan had initially included using the Spenard and Fairview recreation centers, but his administration later decided against using them after community pushback.

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