JUNEAU, Alaska — Juneau officials hope to open a downtown warming shelter for the homeless by mid-November.

The City and Borough of Juneau is pushing forward with a plan to turn the former state public safety building into a warming shelter, KTOO radio reported .

A key Assembly committee met Monday and agreed, in principle, to commit $75,000 to the shelter.

City Manager Rorie Watt said his office is in talks with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to rent part of the building. “We recognize that the Mental Health Trust is a willing building owner that would be easy to work with on this topic that I don’t think would be true of all private building owners,” Watt said.

The warming center would be designed to accommodate about 25 people. It would be open as-needed between mid-November and mid-April, the city estimated.

The city looked at using its downtown transit center as the shelter, which already is a common place for homeless people to gather.

But Watt said he could see problems with that idea.

“The transit center, you know, it has a day function, and part of the thinking was that if it is a night warming shelter, and then magically at 7 a.m. in the morning it stops being a warming shelter and tries to become a transit center, that’s not really going to be successful,” Watt said. “It’s going to be a day-round shelter.”

The Juneau Assembly must formally authorize the warming shelter next month for it to open by Nov. 15.


Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org

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