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City You Wouldn't Expect Forced to Open Arena Due to Out of Control Homeless Crisis

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A homeless camp is being shut down in Anchorage, Alaska, with a lot of confusion existing about what happens then.

Centennial Campground, which has been used by the homeless since June, is scheduled to close on Friday, according to KTUU-TV.

On Monday, the city Assembly approved a plan that would house the homeless in Sullivan Area, formerly used as a shelter, and several other locations. However, with the clock ticking down, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has yet to approve the plan.

“The Administration is continuing to conduct due diligence and evaluation of the Assembly’s Emergency Cold Weather Shelter plan,” Hans Rodvik, spokesman for the mayor’s office, said in a statement, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The plan would cost taxpayers $2.4 million.

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People camping outdoors said they have no idea what will happen to them. Officials estimate the city has about 350 homeless people overall, with about 200 at the campground.

“They closed down the Sullivan Arena, put us out here. Now they closing this down,” Ivan Cofey, a resident of the homeless encampment, said, according to the Anchorage Daily News. “We ain’t got nowhere to stay, we ain’t got nowhere to eat.”

The forecast calls for the high to be around 40 degrees over the weekend.

Lisa Sauder, the director of Bean’s Café, an agency that works with the homeless, said the current plan will not help everyone at the homeless encampment, because those with pets will have nowhere to go.

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“Nobody likes uncertainty in their lives, and when you are already living in a precarious situation to know that it may be coming to a sudden end, and not know exactly what the next step is going to be, it’s very difficult,” Sauder said, according to KTUU.

The. city’s plan calls for the former Golden Lion Hotel to have 85 housing units, while 150 people would live in the Sullivan Arena, according to KTUU. Other locations will have smaller numbers of homeless people.

Virginia Lonser, who lives near the Golden Lion Hotel, said she has concerns about the impact of the plan on her neighborhood.

“I anticipate that we’re going to see public drunkenness and public exposure and stuff that I don’t really — I’m not looking forward for our granddaughters having to cope with that, I don’t even want to cope with that,” Lonser said, according to KTUU.

“I’m concerned if we get people who are violent and agitated, roaming around our street, especially for an assisted living home where you take care of people who are fragile and elderly,” Carol Valdez, owner of an assisted living home near the former hotel, said.

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“My administration will perform all the necessary internal due diligence associated with the proposed plan,” Bronson’s statement said. “If the plan is determined to be an effective method for emergency cold weather sheltering, we will work with the Assembly on developing the appropriation.”

Assembly Member Jamie Allard of Eagle River opposed the plan’s use of the arena for homeless people.

“We need to get the Sullivan back up and running, we need the revenue,” Allard said.

Allard said anyone housed in a shelter needs to follow the rules to be cared for with city funds.

“If they truly want help they will go to these facilities that have rules, if they don’t want help, their rock bottom might just be death. Because this is America and they can decide what they want to decide,” Allard said, according to KTUU.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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