Anchorage’s winter shelter plan will rely on hotels, nonprofits and churches this year

Anchorage Assembly members Anna Brawley (left) and Randy Sulte at an Assembly meeting on Sept. 12, 2023. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly voted Tuesday to put more than $6 million toward shelter for the city’s homeless residents this winter. 

Most of the money comes from funds set aside for the mayor’s proposal to build a new mass shelter and navigation center, which the Assembly voted down last month. Instead, the city’s cold weather shelter plan involves using hotels, churches and nonprofits for extra rooms and temporary beds. Approval of funding for the plan comes as temperatures begin to drop in Anchorage, and roughly 450 people remain unhoused. The city is also headed into its first winter since 2020 without the mass, walk-in shelter at the Sullivan Arena

The funding was amended to dedicate $1.3 million of it to the Anchorage Affordable Housing and Land Trust to convert vacant and abandoned properties into housing. Assembly member Felix Rivera proposed the change. 

“This amendment accomplishes that goal and helps a great partner organization that we’ve worked with over the last year to bring on almost 300 units of housing, bring on even more housing in the form of rehabilitating vacant and abandoned properties,” Rivera said.

The winter shelter funding was approved 9 to 2, with Scott Myers and Randy Sulte voting against it.

Members also unanimously voted to ask Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration to look at converting an old Solid Waste Services facility for homeless services. Sulte proposed the motion and wants the city to evaluate the site near Dowling and the Seward Highway for use as a navigation center or as a shelter or warming area. 

“We’re not saying do it,” Sulte said. “We’re saying evaluate it. It could be all, some or none of the proposed uses. It could be a pallet shelter site.”

In brief remarks, Bronson said he supported taking a look at the facility, and recommended a worksession with his staff and the Assembly to hammer out details.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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