Without coordination at the Municipal level, Centennial Park will continue to be unsafe
For immediate release
June 30, 2022
Anchorage, AK – As news comes out about the status of Centennial Park, there are serious concerns about the safety of those staying there and the community. There are reports that people are showing up to the campground without tents, blankets, or options for basic shelter required for sleeping outside. Additionally, there are reported concerns regarding food storage, bear encounters, security, sanitation, and food, all of which were avoidable with communication between the Mayor’s office and the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and the Homelessness Prevention Response System (HPRS). Based on comments from the Mayor’s office there is not a plan for staffing the property, explicitly stating this is not a homelessness response, yet that is exactly what is needed.
After ensuring that people leaving the Sullivan Arena were supported, ACEH staff and HPRS providers immediately started to respond to the most significant unmet needs at Centennial Park, asking the community to come forward with water, water bottles, padlocks to secure tents, sunscreen, bug spray and hygiene supplies before the long holiday weekend. Beans Café is donating food, and with the number of people staying there likely to change significantly in the coming days, it is unknown how sustainable this service is. Without a point person in the Municipality to manage resources being directed to Centennial Park, ACEH believes there will be limited ability to serve the approximately 150+ people staying there. A strategic distribution system is needed. While the community has assisted with immediate needs, without coordinated intervention and ongoing resources, this last-minute decision by the Municipality will continue to present major challenges to campers’ and the community’s safety.
Important decisions regarding the safety of vulnerable Anchorage residents, and which impact the entire community, need to be made with subject matter experts at the table. One of the greatest takeaways from the Sullivan Arena is that any large-scale effort must be thought out with a plan for how to stand it down. The chaos of this moment is a result of the lack of forward-thinking and is harmful to people experiencing homelessness, the service providers that support them, and all of Anchorage.
If you are a concerned community member who would like to help, ACEH is receiving donations of new or used water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray and sun-protective hats on Tuesday and Thursday from 9am-4pm at 3427 E Tudor Road, Suite A, Anchorage, AK 99507. We have also stood up two meal delivery sites at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church – 855 E 20th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501 and First United Methodist Church – 725 W 9th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11am-1pm.
Media Contact: Owen Hutchinson, (907) 312-9547
About the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness
The mission of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness is to provide dynamic leadership in making homelessness rare, brief, and one time. As the lead for the Anchorage Continuum of Care, ACEH seeks to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts to quickly rehouse individuals and families experiencing homelessness while minimizing trauma and dislocation; promote access to services needed by individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and optimize self-sufficiency.
Thank you to all those who have answered the call and signed up to assemble outreach item kits for our unsheltered neighbors. These kits include cold-weather items and other essentials for individuals sleeping outside during this harsh winter weather.
At the Tuesday, November 22nd meeting of the Anchorage Assembly, a unified proposal for alcohol tax funding was passed.
The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides support through the Continuum of Care (CoC) to different types of housing programs. As the designated CoC lead, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness monitors the performance of these programs to understand how housing interventions function in Anchorage.