At today’s politics-meets-humanity intersection, a mayor in Alaska is proposing sending unhoused Alaskans out of state for the Winter—destination SoCal. At a press conference, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson said it will simply be too cold for homeless people to spend winter on the streets and that it’s cheaper to send people to warmer climates than pay for housing.
“Someone says, ‘I want to go to Los Angeles or San Diego or Seattle or Kansas,’ it’s not our business,” Bronson said, according to the ABC L.A. affiliate. “My job is to make sure they don’t die on Anchorage streets.”
According to the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, at the end of June, Anchorage was estimated to have more than 3,150 people experiencing homeless in the city. At that time, there were only 614 beds at shelters citywide, with no vacancies.
Last year, eight people—a record for the city—died of exposure in Anchorage, where winter temperatures regularly dip below zero.
Bronson said if the program moves forward, people can choose to relocate to the lower 48 states, somewhere else in Alaska where it might be warmer or where they have relatives. A funding source has not been identified, but the city’s homeless director has been charged with coming up with a plan for the program.
That L.A. could see an influx of individuals experiencing homelessness seeking services would stress an already taxed system of care. And the proposal comes at a time when L.A. Mayor Karen Bass’ program, Inside Safe, is struggling.
ABC cites an L.A. Times report that found about 83 percent of the unhoused people who enter the program remain in the temporary hotel rooms they get placed in. The other 17 percent have either left their temporary housing or have exited the program altogether.
Bass has reportedly attributed some of the decline to struggles with addiction, mental health and opposition to hotel rules.