Anchorage Mayor Proposes Sending Homeless to California

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

News flash, Anchorage, Alaska: It gets cold in Alaska in the winter.

Anchorage has a homeless problem, like so many American cities today. Being in Alaska, Anchorage also regularly sees sub-zero temperatures in the winter, and those sub-zero spells can last for days or weeks. That tends to be a little hard on the urban campers.


So Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has a solution: Send Anchorage’s homeless to California.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson told reporters during a news conference this week that plane tickets would be purchased for unhoused people to be sent to cities where they have families who can care for them or where the climate is warmer.

“Last year was the most deadly year in history for people who were homeless, and now this coming year with this winter, we’re looking at possibly doubling that,” he said, noting that winters are extremely cold in Anchorage. “I have a moral imperative here and that is to save lives, and if that means giving them a few hundred dollars for an airline ticket to go where they want to go, I’m going to do that.”

No funding has been approved yet for the relocation program, which also operated last year, but Bronson didn’t anticipate any problems locating the funds. He said about 11 people took the offers last year.

“I think a ticket this morning to Los Angeles is 286 bucks, it cost us $100 plus or minus a few dollars every day to house someone, and we don’t have a place to put them in a large shelter this winter,” he said. “And remember, the objective, and it’s sad that we had to get to this, but we’re here to save lives, that’s my job.”

It’s not as heartless an idea as it might seem. Not only is California’s climate much more salubrious than Alaska’s, especially between September and May, but California spends billions of dollars on the homeless, and their “people experiencing homelessness” population keeps rising, so whatever they are doing obviously presents a welcoming environment for urban outdoors-people.


Last winter, Anchorage housed much of its homeless population in Sullivan Arena, thus keeping most of them from freezing, but that’s not an option anymore.

Half of the deaths, the paper reported, occurred after the closure of the mass shelter at the George M. Sullivan Arena, which typically hosts sporting and cultural events.

The city moved dozens of its unhoused people to various areas, including a park six miles away when it closed the mass shelter in May.

As of now, there is no shelter large enough to house people during the winter, when temperatures can drop as low as -31 Fahrenheit between November and March.

Aside from the arena’s operating costs and it not being an ideal living space for homeless people, Bronson did not provide other reasons as to why the city could not use it once again as a mass shelter for the winter.

Bronson said the arena needed to return to the public realm.

“It needs to be an entertainment venue,” he told reporters. “We need hockey, rock concerts there, we need to get that back to normal.”

Aside from the winter weather, Anchorage has another issue that doesn’t obtain in Los Angeles or San Francisco, and that is the local wildlife. Moose don’t take kindly to mass human encampments in their territory, and moose cows with calves can be quite aggressive. But the real problem is bears, as the trash-strewn homeless encampments attract Anchorage’s bear population, and that never ends well for the bears; in 2022, several bears were killed by Alaska Fish & Game officers while the bears were foraging in the city-run Centennial Campground.


It’s never a good thing when bears start associating humans with food.

For these reasons alone, Mayor Bronson’s solution should absolutely be seen as a generous humanitarian gesture. The homeless population will be much more comfortable in coastal California, especially in the winter; they will not face possible attacks by bears and moose, California seems to have an endless supply of cash to throw at supporting the homeless, and there are already thousands of homeless there that have already formed a community.

As usual, South Park called it years ago:


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