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

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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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