I wrote about this Jan. 25th — Rural CAP’s proposed residential center for homeless alcoholics in an existing hotel building in Fairview was generating some fierce opposition.
Since then, the municipal Assembly has been removing some roadblocks, and plans for Karluk Manor seem to be moving ahead.
If another facility for drunks is such a great deal for Fairview, maybe it would sell in an East Anchorage or Midtown or Hillside neighborhood. Right?
Jenkins’ faux compassion for the much-maligned Fairview still makes a point [one I have noted serveral times]: social services tend to congregate in places in Anchorage where their clients are located, and where real estate prices are lowest. The vicious cycle created makes it doubly difficult to distribute these services in locations citywide.
It’s both a financial and attitudinal vexing problem. People have to stop believing Mt. View and Fairview [and to a lesser extent, Muldoon and Spenard] are dangerous and undesirable locations, and begin to take on an active role in a counterpunch, i.e. try [in any of dozens of different ways] to make the neighborhood famous for a better reason.
Not an easy task, and results may take decades to materialize.
The problem with fanning the flames of NIMBY-ism in order to derail Karluk Manor, is that it is a promising community structure, based on a model that has worked well elsewhere, and should be given a chance to succeed. I think that, though the situation Jenkins laments should be addressed in the future, the potential for Rural CAP to make real progress in rehabilitation of chronic street alcoholics trumps downside for the neighbors in this instance.
I checked out the duplex under construction at the corner of No. Bunn St. and Peterkin Ave. today. There is a sign on the side noting it has been funded by the United States Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I’m not sure if Cook Inlet Housing Authority is behind this or not? It doesn’t resemble their others so much. This one definitely takes good advantage of its setting, with large corner picture windows looking at a territorial view of the Chugach Mountains. Nice to see this investment during hard times.
Jim Fredericks, representative of Habitat for Humanity Anchorage appeared at the January Mt View Community Council meeting and I asked him a couple pointed questions. I kind of didn’t enjoy doing so because I think he’s a good guy. He used to write a handyman/home repair column in the ADN, back in the days when there was such a thing as a locally written column on a subject like that. Anyway, I still found his answers unsatisfactory.
First, a little background. There’s a group of 12 lots in the far northwest corner of Mt View that were platted along with the rest of the neighborhood in the 1940s but were never built on because most of them sit at the bottom end of a 30 ft high bluff that cuts them off from the plateau of developed properties above. An engineering challenge that might not amount to much in a hillier, less wintery place, perhaps. Recently First National Bank Alaska sold ten of the lots to HFH for $120,000. That much should have bought two of them at today’s prices, to give an idea of how much of a sweetheart deal this was. MOA, in yet another public-private partnership has agreed to extend Thompson Ave. to the west far enough to allow Habitat to build on four of the ten lots. These lots will have panoramic views of downtown Anchorage and Elmendorf Air Force Base to the west — what real estate agents call a territorial view, rare in the Anchorage area.
I asked Fredericks, how many housing units has Habitat built in Anchorage in its history here? And of the total, how many in Mt View?, how many in Spenard? Fairview? Anywhere else in Anchorage? And he answered, 60 total, 4 in Muldoon, 3 in Fairview, 12 in Spenard and 41 in Mt View. [I guess it will 45 here, after next summer.] So why does Mt View, containing 3% of Anchorage’s population and off in the geographic corner of the city, need 70% of its Habitat houses? And the usual reason given is that land has been cheap and available here. I told Fredericks that represented ‘no kind of citywide strategy to address the needs of poor people’ or something close to that.
I actually believe, much like Jane Jacobs in her earthshaking 1962 book about why city revitalization often fails, that income guidelines as a prerequisite for obtaining housing are ultimately counterproductive to a neighborhood trying to, as she puts it, ‘unslum itself’. And more than a tenth of Mt View is now under such limitation.