Shelter Licensing


According to Municipal Code Chapter 16.125 – Homeless and Transient Shelter Licensing, “a homeless and transient shelter may not operate within the municipality after January 1, 2023 unless it has obtained the applicable homeless and transient shelter license or provisional license from the municipality. . . 
At the moment, there are no license application materials available. The Anchorage Health Department understands that the full licensing process may not be completed by January 1, 2023. Therefore, it is committed to working with each provider to create reasonable timelines. 

In the coming weeks, a staff member from the Anchorage Health Department will reach out to all providers that require ‘day shelter’ or ‘overnight shelter’ licenses under the Municipal Code. More information will be available at that time.


1. What is the difference between an overnight shelter and a day shelter? 

  • According to Municipal Code Chapter 16.125 – Homeless and Transient Shelter Licensing, the definitions of overnight shelter and day shelter are: 

    • Overnight Shelter: a facility designed to provide minimum necessities of life on a limited, short-term basis for individuals and families during periods of dislocation or emergency pending formulation of long-term planning 
    • Day Shelter: a social services facility primarily engaged in providing services or activities to advance the welfare of individuals experiencing homelessness and others in need, such as food or clothing distribution, job or life skills counseling or training, connections and on-site engagement with appropriate social services and public assistance providers, planning for more permanent housing and employment, and the like


2. When do you expect the application materials will be available? 

  • We expect that all application materials will be available before the end of 2022. 


 3. We’ve operated a dependable shelter for 30 years. Why licensing now? 

  • The assembly passed ordinance AO No. 2021-55(S-1), which has become Municipal Code Chapter 16.125 – Homeless and Transient Shelter Licensing. According to the code, the Anchorage Health Department is required to implement and enforce a licensing system for overnight and day shelters.  

  • The Municipal Code states that the purpose of licensing is, “to establish minimum standards of care and operation for homeless shelters in the municipality, enable and maintain data collection and monitoring of the homeless population, to maintain appropriate oversight in order to provide individuals and families experiencing homelessness with the care and services needed, and mitigate impacts of neighboring residents, businesses, property owners and the users of the shelters.” 


4. How much money will it cost shelters to be in compliance with Muni regulations? 

  • The municipality appreciates the valuable work that shelters do every day. According to Municipal Code Chapter 16.125 – Homeless and Transient Shelter Licensing, The requirements of this chapter are not intended to be overly burdensome on homeless shelter operators. The intent of the assembly is to permit homeless and transient shelters to locate and operate with as much autonomy as is reasonably allowable.” 


5. What is going to happen to our shelter if we haven’t been licensed by January 1, 2023? 

  • The Anchorage Health Department will issue a provisional license to each establishment that meets the definition of Title 16.125 if it is unable to complete the full licensing process by January 1, 2023.  

  • The Overnight or Day shelters that are determined to be operating prior to the passage of Title 16.125, will be given specific dates in which they will be expected to comply.  This will be, at a minimum, 30 days from notification of publication of the AHD Application. 


6. How can our shelter start to prepare for licensing? 

​Read the code: Title 16.125. Review documents and prepare what is necessary for when the application is published. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Determining if your shelter meets the definition of Overnight Shelter, Daytime Shelter, or both 
  • Ensuring your Policies and Procedures are up to date according to the code. Not only will you need to document how your operations run, but you must also include: 
    • Minimum requirements for handling behavioral and medical needs 
    • Denial Procedures 
    • Standards of conduct for both clients and staff 
    • Security plan for handling incidents of assault or other physical violence 
    • Plan for screening persons to determine if they are under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, and a plan to provide for their immediate needs if the shelter will admit such persons. 
    • Written policies for client rights and conduct 
    • Policy and procedure for ensuring the safety of clients, staff, volunteers and visitors. 
    • Codes of conduct for staff, volunteer, and visitor supervision 
    • Policies and practices that deter and reduce client loitering and prohibited camping in parks and public spaces and other impacts on neighboring residents, businesses, and property owners 
    • How your shelter uses the Coordinated Entry system within HMIS standards 
    • Verification that a project is set up and used in HMIS 
    • Plans for how clients may be transported 
  • Ensuring you have a valid fire inspection 
  • Documenting operating agreements between shelter types and describing how they will coordinate services 
  • Documenting change of shelter usage throughout the year and how it is implemented (i.e. cold weather, pandemic, etc.) 
  • Keeping the following documents on file: 
    • An updated business license 
    • A copy of an approved Land Use Permit from the MOA Planning Department  
    • Attested copies of any articles of incorporation, bylaws, operating agreement, partnership agreement or articles of association that govern the entity 
    • Applicable food licensing and inspection reports 
    • Criminal background checks for the licensee and any managing member of the applicant 
    • Updated rules of conduct, policies and procedures and operating plan for the shelter 
    • Insurance for premises 
  • Ensuring premises are in compliance with Anchorage Municipal Codes 
  • Confirming that you have paid all taxes, fees, or fines to the municipality 
  • Maintaining a Good Neighbor Policy that details the applicant’s plan for community communication and minimizing neighborhood impacts, including policing of trash and loitering on or near the premises 


7. How much will licenses cost the provider? 

  • This has not been determined. 

8. Does it matter if I am not zoned correctly for my use? 

  • Every business that may meet the definition will be considered regardless of their zoning type.  Some are zoned as Social Services facilities but meet the definition in Title 16 and will be licensed.  As long as there is a zoning license issued under Title 21, the location will be considered. 

9. Will I be able to fill out and submit the forms online? 

  • Yes.  There is an online submission that is being developed to aid in gathering documents needed to license shelters. 

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