After all the fighting against homelessness, how did we get here again?

It looks like the movie “Groundhog Day” has a potential sequel in the fight against Anchorage’s homeless plan.

In late June, the municipality closed its mass shelter at Sullivan Arena, shuttling residents and other Anchorage-area campsites to a hastily prepared group campground at Centennial Park. That site turned into a fiasco almost immediately, with homeless support service providers caught off guard by the move and comedic denials from Mayor Dave Bronson and his administration that the campground was part of the response to homeless people in the municipality. Although third-party groups, nonprofits, and volunteers ultimately helped fill the worst service gaps created by the poorly planned change, Centennial was never a good fit — and things got worse at the time. as the second half of summer was sustained, sometimes torrential rain. It was just the latest in a year of unplanned, half-hearted and botched efforts by the Bronson administration to address homelessness in Anchorage.

And now, with the approach of autumn and winter frosts, the municipality closes the campsite again and sends homeless residents from there to the Sullivan.

When it comes to homelessness, what are we thinking of doing? Because it seems clear at this point that the nerve-wracking matchup between Mayor Bronson and the Assembly over the issue has thrown the community into a corner. After more than a year of this, it’s hard to be optimistic about what will happen next.

The Optimist hopes the Mayor and Assembly share genuine concern for vulnerable Anchorage residents. Unfortunately, it is not at all clear based on events so far that concern outweighs each side’s desire to implement its preferred solution and deny that of its ideological opponents.

The ongoing struggle for the Golden Lion is a good example of this. Bronson’s fierce opposition to the use of the former hotel as a treatment center was a key part of his campaign for mayor, and he maintained a staunch opposition to its use even as the attitude of many residents soured. is softened and other options did not work. The administration has attempted to throw up roadblocks to the use of the facility, first saying it would likely be demolished by a road project that has yet to be funded, then telling Assembly members that the building was not in a state of use.

For its part, the Assembly appears determined to force the administration to use the facility, tying funding for Bronson’s homelessness priorities to a firm written commitment and effort to use the building. The two sides don’t seem to be talking, just trying to bludgeon the other into political submission. So far, the two sides lack the leadership skills to reach a compromise.

Other aspects of the homelessness response are also in disarray. Bronson and his administration did not provide details — if any — of their plans for the homeless, such as camping at Centennial Park and details of the proposed boating center near Tudor and Elmore roads. Although the reluctance to share details likely had its roots in a justified fear that Assembly members would work to poke holes in the plan as soon as the details were known, the result was that these plans have groups of blind services that help with the homeless response – as well as homeless residents themselves, who have lost access to employment and transportation due to a lack of support. The paucity of information shared by the administration also made it easy for the Assembly to justify its decision to take a skeptical look at Bronson’s proposals; whatever the relative priorities of the two parties, it is unrealistic to expect the Assembly to fund plans for the homeless without being able to verify them.

If there’s a silver lining in the homeless services mess, it’s that – for better or worse – we seem to be approaching a critical decision point for several facilities, including the Golden Lion and the Navigation Center. The Assembly recently postponed a decision on funding for the navigation center until its October 25 meeting.

Now is the time for both sides to set petty political agendas aside and strike a compromise: The mayor must acquiesce and allow the Golden Lion to be used as a treatment center, and the Assembly must finally approve funding. from the navigation center and allow the administration some leeway to see it up as soon as possible.

We’ve done enough backtracking, as homeless residents preparing to return to Sullivan Arena can attest. It is time to progress. Let’s not forget the horror stories that emerged from the arena during its first stint as a mass shelter, with chaos among the residents, at least one of whom nearly died due to poor standards of care . Assembly members publicly stated their intention was to leave the Sullivan as quickly as possible; they and Mayor Bronson’s administration should be held to that promise.

By October 25, there will be frost and possibly snow on the ground, and it won’t be good for people to camp outside indefinitely. Our municipal leaders in the Assembly and in the Mayor’s office can show us that they are committed to finding better solutions to this problem by moving forward with a concrete plan that includes housing and treatment – not just moving vulnerable residents between the Sullivan Arena and campgrounds throughout the seasons.

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