The recent plunge in temperature and increase in snowfall has resulted in an elevated rate of homelessness-related fatalities in Anchorage, Alaska. With at least 49 homeless individuals already having died, political officials are presented with the challenge of finding new solutions to address this critical issue. The fatalities have been attributed to a multitude of factors, including an alarming fentanyl crisis and the closure of a million-shelter.
Due to the rising death toll, the city’s housing and homelessness committees have been under immense pressure to introduce preventative measures. Unsheltered residents have continuously been left vulnerable by harsh winters. These deaths have drawn attention to the consequences of diminishing shelter capacity and services. Officials have expressed concerns that the homeless population need to be prioritized based on vulnerability and individual circumstances in addressing the escalating issue.
Officials acknowledge that the overwhelming number of homeless deaths is caused by the housing crisis, spread of fentanyl, and insufficient shelter capacity. As part of the candidate solutions, the city hopes to expand shelter capacity, bolster priority services, and establish transportation and access to healthcare services. It is a time for the city to address this issue with a comprehensive plan in order to alter the current trajectory of homeless fatalities.