Assembly Considers Future of Allowed Camps in Anchorage


During yesterday’s Regular Assembly Meeting, the Anchorage Assembly took up two items toward establishing the role of allowed camps in solving homelessness in the Municipality. First, the Assembly accepted the final report from the Allowed Camps Community Task Force, which summarizes their work to evaluate the feasibility and provide recommendations for developing allowed camps in Anchorage. Second, the Assembly approved AO 2023-70(S-1), As Amended, an ordinance to define allowed camps with required site and operational standards.
About the Task Force Recommendations
Last week, the Community Task Force tasked with evaluating the feasibility of allowed camps finalized their report to the Anchorage Assembly. The final report was accepted into the public record as AIM 140-2023 and is available to view online:
The Allowed Camp Community Task Force was created as a component of the plan to demobilize emergency cold weather shelter. Open to all members of the community, more than 60 individuals joined the task force. From May 5 through July 5, 2023, the group met to evaluate the potential for allowed camps and temporary shelters to help meet the need for emergency sheltering across the Municipality.
The Community Task Force’s final report summarizes each meeting and compiles the group’s recommendations to establish a more detailed vision for safe, successful allowed camps. Recommendations include specific parameters for site selection, size and operations, including layout, sanitation, utilities, safety and security and support services. The Assembly will review the recommendations during an upcoming Housing & Homelessness Committee meeting.
About the Ordinance
Assembly Members George Martinez, Zac Johnson and Kevin Cross brought forward AO 2023-70, a proposal to establish a procedure for allowed camps and temporary buildings to provide temporary emergency shelter. Member Rivera presented a substitute version (S-1) of the ordinance, which was ultimately approved (7-4) as amended.
As approved, the ordinance defines an allowed camp as a temporary sheltering area that designates separate spaces for individual tents or temporary small structures to provide basic shelter. The ordinance requires the director of the Anchorage Health Department to approve an operations plan to activate an allowed camp. An operations plan must comply with standards and restrictions detailed in the ordinance, including:
  • A location identified on vacant lots, parking lots or other open spaces with minimal trees or significant vegetation that allows for clear sight lines across a majority of the entire site
  • A location not located within densely wooded areas, public trails, greenbelts, and/or playgrounds
  • A maximum capacity of 60 residents
“If we’re actually working to get a pilot site up and running this summer, we need to cut red tape,” said Assembly Member Felix Rivera, chair of the Assembly Housing & Homelessness Committee. “We are now in a place to work alongside the Administration to choose a site, informed by the community’s work. This is not a sole solution to ending homelessness, but it can be a tool on our path to providing housing first, should the Administration choose to use it.”

Felix Rivera | Housing & Homelessness Committee Chair, District 4, Midtown