Joes House Foundation

People with no shelter in Anchorage, Alaska


The city’s mass shelter in a sports arena closed after complaints from neighbors about bad behavior and bickering between the city’s liberal Assembly and conservative mayor killed hopes for a new permanent shelter and navigation center to take its place.

City leaders – who estimate they still need to find up to 450 winter beds – say they are confident they have enough emergency housing ready, but the mood on the streets is grim.

Anchorage last winter had a record 24 deaths outdoors among the homeless population, with 11 fatalities occurring in the winter months between October 2022 and April 2023, said Alexis Johnson, the city’s homeless director.

Alaska’s biggest city has an estimated 3,150 homeless individuals and enough room in shelters for all but about 775 people, Johnson said.

The city recently brought four more housing facilities, which could create space for another 310 people, but is still seeking winter housing for an estimated 400 to 450 people.

Political tension between the liberal-leaning Assembly and the conservative mayor over policy and process has slowed progress on what was to be a new shelter on the city’s east side.

Anchorage, population 300,000, has 40% of the state’s population but 65% of Alaska’s homeless population, Bronson said, adding that the city has spent $161 million on the homeless crisis since 2020.

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