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Anchorage declares municipal emergency in response to cuts

July 25, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Municipality of Anchorage has announced an emergency declaration in response to state budget cuts, a report said.

City officials say the declaration comes during an “unprecedented housing, public health and safety crisis,” KTUU-TV reported Wednesday.

“Often times when we deal with emergencies, we deal with things we don’t see coming,” said Democratic Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. “The crisis upon us is something we can see coming our way.”

The emergency declaration is only the second in the city’s history.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy last month vetoed line items equaling $444 million in cuts to the state operating budget, including an 85% reduction in support for homeless programs, from $14.1 million to $2.6 million.

A special Anchorage Assembly meeting is scheduled Friday to determine if the emergency order must be extended, said assembly Chairman Felix Rivera.

“This isn’t just something the city takes responsibility for, it’s something everyone in Anchorage must take responsibility for,” Rivera said.

Berkowitz and Rivera were joined at the announcement by assembly homeless committee co-chairs Meg Zaletel and Kameron Perez-Verdia.

Berkowitz expects 800 or more people will lose housing due to budget-related circumstances, including reduced capacity at the Brother Francis shelter, he said.

“The consequence of those individuals landing on the street is different from the population currently on the street,” Berkowitz said. “There will be unprecedented demand on first responders on the street as well as things occurring in hospitals.”

Assembly members intend to gather public input about the housing shortage.

“This is a time to be creative and resilient,” Perez-Verdia said. “But between now and Friday, we need to hear the public’s thoughts.”

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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