Homeless in Anchorage Part 3
“Anchorage Has A Homeless Problem”
Anchorage Assembly and Mayor Ethan Berkowitz plan to illegally use the Cares Act Money, that ultimately the residents of the Anchorage will be on the hook for and have to pay back to the Federal Government, if what is proposed, happens.
It’s roughly 40 hours before the Anchorage Assembly convenes to vote on AO-66; rezoning and purchasing of four buildings for the Homeless.
Their affirmative vote is essentially inevitable. Their plotting of how to use the Cares Act Money (Illegally) by the Assembly and Mayor, during last weeks work sessions telegraphed their strategy.
Many of the Assembly Members and Mayor will claim that they “heard” the public outcry as an error in judgment regarding process to change zoning. Just like when they claimed Alaskans didn’t understand the Alcohol Tax and weren’t “educated enough” to understand what they voted down the first time.
They will vote to buy the 4 buildings in question, regardless of the overwhelming outcry they have received not to do it in the residential neighborhoods they are in and run these programs they are proposing, under conditional use permits – without – doing due diligence to address neighborhood safety and other impacts.
Example: the inevitable decreasing of housing values and the decade long persistent surrendering of public and private spaces to individuals that has already made Anchorage not a great place to live, work and play in, will only get worse.
As a further measure to ensure passage of AO-66, notable partisans: The Rev Michael Burke, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and Dick Mandsager buttressed their efforts of misdirection with the reflexive and pitiable name calling that is unbecoming of public figures but has become all to common these days. Labeling anyone who opposed “their plan” as “racists”.
(Links below to an Interview with Mayor Ethan Berkowitz had with KWHL and what what he said in regards to what is above and what he also had to say About Assembly Member Chris Constants Racist remakes made to a Rabbi.)
Despite the fact that Alaska by constitution and treaty we have, has a very clearly separation of funding sources for Native Alaskans and non-Native Alaskans. The homeless/addiction/crime problems that Anchorage faces need all resources to be brought to the fore with all culturally relevant therapies front and center working together.
To be clear, opponents of the plan to buy these buildings want to help homeless people – most said so explicitly – but they also want a few things that the Mayor and the Assembly are vigorously opposed to do:
1. The opponents want better management of the 1200 strong homeless population, who have been granted superior rights to public and private spaces in Anchorage. The Assembly and the Mayor have made it clear that they will not direct any effort or funding to reclaim public and private spaces, nor do anything to abate the hazards that are caused by needles, feces and unknown refuse. The opponents against the Mayor and Assembly want people on the streets helped off the street and parks, not as volunteers, but through an affirmative intervention if necessary.
2. Similarly, they want people who are causing crimes to be held accountable for their criminality. Granted this is a small percentage of the homeless, but Assemblyman Forest Dunbar and others on the Assembly, reiterated what the majority of the Assembly and the Mayor said when they were running for office.
They will “Not Do Anything” to hold people on the street accountable for crimes they commit, that they consider minor crimes. Most of the current composition of the Assembly had opposed repealing SB 91, the State law which created a massive spike in crime throughout Alaska. Which has cost unfathomable amount of property loss and sense of neighborhood and personal security eroded. Just to be clear. Under the current Ordinances in place, the Homeless have more rights then the property Owners do.
Additionally, the Assembly is set to vote to strip the Anchorage Police Department of the ability to defend themselves and the public. There is no effort to “criminalize” homelessness, but rather an effort to not hold people accountable that are persistent offenders of public order and property crimes.
3. They want a plan that incorporates the above two issues coupled with treatment and housing and perhaps detention for a few. The plan that the Assembly is backing promotes massive spending and making services available that have proven not to work, without a mechanism to compel any intervention or treatment.
The mayor goes one step further and claims that there are no alternative plans, despite extensive testimony proving otherwise. Yet here several other plans that are available to consider that they are ignoring as if they didn’t exist:
A. There is the Intervention 2020 Plan. Similar to plan B but it is tougher about locking people up.
B. Juneau Model Plan and the only successful model used in Alaska thus far, to reclaim a neighborhood. It has been reported this has an 95% rate of success in Juneau and is working.
Both A and B Plans address the citizens concerns that have been raised for neighborhoods, public safety, and the proper location of treatment facilities.
C. The Anchored Home Plan that is what the Mayor and Assembly is currently backing, does not address any of those issues, at the peril of all the people living in or visiting Anchorage.
4. People also want outcomes.
Anchorage is getting dirtier, has more crime, and has a bigger budget every year, without any noticeable improvement to the services already provided or quality of life for the average person in Anchorage. Just keeps costing more each year.
To be successful Anchorage needs to hold those who receive public funds and even those non profits that don’t, who have accept the responsibility for the homeless population accountable for the results they are to achieve. If it’s not working, we should not keep funding the dysfunctional.
At the same time holding those homeless/addicts/criminals accountable for some progress, in whatever direction that might be for them. These are necessary steps to be taken that is long overdue.
The current plan is to use the same approach that has failed over and over again in our city and others around the USA that has shown to have approximately a 5% success rate.
Take a look at what is happening on the street in California. The Homeless have turned a once beautiful place to live into a cesspool of disease and filth using similar approaches the Mayor and Assembly want to do here.
Their current plans are using the exact same partners and the same exclusions for the homeless that were there before. The only change of course being made is a massive spend on treatment that requires voluntary participation from those living on the streets. We have all seen how well that hasn’t worked so far. What is there to make us believe this will change anything?
5. We are expecting the Assembly will try to blow over exactly how much they will spend for this. It’s roughly around $100 million dollars. $22.5 Million of CARES Act Money, $40 Million in 2019 from charitable donations, $15 million from the sell of MLP and $20 Million for renovations to come from the cities coffers. Can’t forget the additional $7 million a year coming from city tax money to cover operational costs. For about 1200 Homeless people. While ignoring the safety and security of regular Anchorage people who in the end will be stuck paying back the Federal Government the illegally used $22.5 Million of the Cares Act Money.
There should also be a clear discussion about the money that has been spent in the last five years and the tax vehicle that the City intends to operate to fund these programs going forward. I think people would also appreciate a portion of this spending to be used toward programs that have been proven to work. like the use of private security/social worker teams that would keep people moving and prevent large portions of Anchorage public spaces to be overtaken by illegal campsites.
Additionally, an honest conversation is overdue about better location placement of these facilities. It was made clear to everyone who witnessed the public testimony that better sites at better prices currently exist, and the people of Anchorage deserve an explanation as to why despoiling neighborhoods is superior to rural placement of these facilities.
Make no mistake, the 5 years of failures that the MOA has experienced under the direction of the Berkowitz team is their responsibility, their shame, and it must end.
Their willingness to step over the broken and dying bodies of the homeless while claiming to be their civil rights champions is one of the most depraved and crass examples of political posturing I’ve ever seen.
We as a city deserve better and the affected homeless deserve better then what they are presenting”.
They have made statements that people who do not welcome more dysfunction in our neighborhoods are not good neighbors. The Muni has an obvious track record of contempt for the security of the people and neighborhoods of Anchorage. They made that perfectly clear with the statements they have made. It is just unproductive deflection of a more deep seated problem that borders real closely to being racist in nature and the comments made by certain Assembly Members and the Mayor during this process have made that perfectly clear.
A more comprehensive plan is needed, to include the rights, obligations and perspectives of the whole community need to be taken into consideration, and that protects neighborhoods as well as civil rights of all, not just the Homeless.
The Mayor and Assembly must be made to understand that their approach is wrong and failing everyone.
To that end, after the vote happens on Monday, I urge the people of Anchorage to commit to undertaking the tough work to Recall as many of the assembly as possible and the Mayor. To place these issue on the voters initiative to Recall them, to support any lawsuits that may be filed as a result of the irreparable harms which the Assembly will force onto the neighborhoods of Anchorage.
Here is a link to KWHL interview with Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. He gets into the Homeless camps and the comments referenced above starting about 15 min in.
Take note from this Interview the Mayor gave:
He dismisses the Racist remarks Assembly Chris Constant made as ok, because he apologized the next day. Truly disgusting how those on the left will dismiss those remarks when they are said by them. But will vilify anybody that doesn’t believe in their plan as being Racist. Also take note he was in the room when Chris Constant made them and said nothing.
Here is a link to a video when Assembly Member Chris Constant made those Anti-Semitic remarks to a Rabbi comparing the Holocausts to the Homeless.
I would like to thank David D’Amato for collaborating with me so we could get all this information out to all of you. Amazing what people can accomplish when they work together.
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