Homelessness is a complex issue requiring a multi-faceted approach with no singular answer that will magically solve the issue overnight.
Elements of the right have worked overtime to blame the "liberal" policies of former mayor Ethan Berkowitz for the present homelessness situation when, in reality, the issues surrounding homelessness have largely gone unaddressed for nearly two decades by Democratic and Republican mayors alike. Alaska also elected a governor who cut tens of millions of dollars in funding to various programs that would have aided our fellow Alaskans.
One would think that a mayoral candidate who was endorsed by the Save Anchorage Facebook group would have had a comprehensive plan and legitimate answer for addressing homelessness since the issue is the supposed basis on which the Save Anchorage group was created.
Instead, Anchorage residents got to hear Bronson's own disastrous words as he made the case for circumventing criminalization of the homeless at the Young Republican Mayoral Debate last week with fellow conservative candidates Mike Robbins and Bill Evans.
During the debate, which has been posted in its entirety across social media, Bronson admitted "you can't criminalize homelessness" and cited a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court. The ultimate ruling didn't come from the 9th Circuit court, it came from the Supreme Court of the United States.
On December 16, 2019 in the case of Martin v. Boise, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition by the city of Boise to review the case. The Supreme Court decision was issued without comment.
The Supreme Court ruling left in place earlier rulings by the 9th Circuit that homeless people cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property in the absence of adequate alternatives. The ruling brought comfort to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness who could then sleep more safely without facing criminal punishment for simply trying to survive on the streets.
Mr. Bronson, in his rebuttal, opined that "you can take people into custody, you can cite them for other things," and said that once they're "in the system," those individuals will then have to make a decision as to whether they will get better in a jail cell or some other proven program. It's not clear what proven program Mr. Bronson was specifically referring to in his comments on the issue or how existing programs might cope with a sudden influx of clients.
According to a 2015 assessment by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, "564,708 people were homeless on any given night in the United States. At a minimum, 140,000 or 25 percent of these people were seriously mentally ill, and 250,000 or 45 percent had any mental illness."