The Anchorage Assembly has recommended allowing an empty, city-owned lot in Midtown to be used as a camp for homeless residents.
The lot was one of five sites across Anchorage that a city task force recommended in May. Mayor Dave Bronson noted that the city will use the term “allowed camp” as opposed to “sanctioned camp” to reduce potential legal liability on behalf of the city.
An earlier version of the resolution would have recommended the use of all five sites as places for homeless residents to stay, but at the Assembly’s meeting Tuesday night, member Felix Rivera introduced a new measure that focuses on standing up one initial site, which is in Rivera’s district.
“This site is really a pilot, that’s how folks should think about it,” Rivera said. “To see what works, what doesn’t work, so that come summer of 2024, really much sooner than that, but by the time we get to summer 2024, we are in a better position to consider our decisions on allowed camps.”
The site is right next to Cuddy Park, an area currently being cleared of homeless campers in order to make way for the upcoming Sundown Solstice Festival. The music festival had been permitted for the area since December and is scheduled for June 16-18.
The resolution passed by the Assembly Tuesday night recommends that the lot allow between 30 and 60 people to stay there starting on July 17. The lot was originally a site for a national archives building that never came to fruition.
The resolution passed 9-2, with Assembly members Chris Constant and Scott Myers opposed. It doesn’t create any policy or allocate any money to the proposal. The mayor said he supports the idea, but that it will take some sort of city funding.
“I support this, but we gotta look at the money now,” Bronson said.
Meanwhile, the Assembly postponed a vote on putting $7 million to $11 million toward the construction of a homeless shelter and navigation center in East Anchorage.