Memo: Anchorage health chief warns that licensing homeless shelters could mean more will be unsheltered in Anchorage


Heather Harris, the director of the Anchorage Health Department, says the proposed ordinance that would require homeless shelters to be licensed by the municipality comes with a number of risks that need to be addressed first.

In a memo to Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel and the acting mayor’s chief of staff, Harris warned about several of the unintended consequences of requiring licenses for nonprofit shelter operators, including:

Provider burden: Although it may not be the intent of the ordinance, licensing may burden shelter providers with additional costs, including employee costs, Harris said.

Timeline and costs of process: Harris pointed out that regulatory compliance such as background checks will increase the

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