Republican Anchorage, Alaska Mayor Dave Bronson wants to send the city’s homeless population to Los Angeles, California, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Anchorage recorded 1,760 people staying on the streets in January 2023 and in overnight shelters, up from 1,494 in 2022, according to point in time census data. The city has been attempting to convert old hotels to housing with the help of nonprofits, but conflict between the mayor and the city council has slowed down that effort, and now the mayor is considering another solution to ensure fewer homeless people die in Anchorage, the Time reported.
“I don’t want to get the folks of L.A. mad at me,” Bronson told the Times.
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Anchorage closed a shelter that housed more than 500 people at the Sullivan Arena during cold months, according to the Times and city officials have no plans for a new shelter.
Bronson had plans for a tent-like structure that would be insulated and could shelter up to 150 people, but the city council nixed that idea.
“Republicans want to tell a false story that Democratic-run cities are falling apart,” Zach Seidl, a spokesman for Mayor Karen Bass, told the Times. “These ridiculous stunts just show the difference between leaders who confront crises by rolling up their sleeves to address issues and leaders who confront crises by rolling over to shift the problem.”
Some of the homeless in Anchorage seemed to dislike the idea of leaving the city, according to the outlet.
“I will never leave Alaska,” Thraine Katchatag from Shaktoolik, a village near the Bering Sea, who currently lives in the homeless encampment on Third Avenue in Anchorage, told the Times.
Katchatag told the outlet he left the village because “the village is dry, and I like to drink.”
“How about sending us to hell and back? Los Angeles? This is Los Anchorage,” Ane Opetaia, who works as a hotel housekeeper and stays at the camp, said when asked about the mayor’s idea, according to the LA Times.
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California is also currently experiencing a homelessness crisis, with homelessness surging 10% in 2023 in Los Angeles as the city spends billions of dollars to solve it. It’s estimated there are nearly 50,000 homeless persons in the city.
Alexis Johnson, Anchorage’s homelessness coordinator, said that 31 people believed to be homeless have died outdoors in Anchorage in 2022, more than last year’s record, which was 24, according to the LA Times.
Bronson said that California is sunnier than Alaska, which may ensure that less of the homeless die, according to the Times.
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