“Everybody’s perception of so-called “those people” is misconstrued and Anchorage has a chronic problem that’s not being addressed,” he said.
He added while some residents argue they don't want the project in their backyard, it already is.
As part of outreach projects with area churches, Latham said there are 10 rooms currently occupied by people who would qualify for this project.
“If you ask the question what’s going on, now is no different than the proposed project,” he said.
But it's this proposal that drew dozens to Wednesday night's Spenard Community Council meeting.
“I feel it’s an ill-conceived project,” said resident Burke Wick. “At this point, poorly laid out and not a place to spend $3.4 million of state money.”
Some said they like the idea, just not the location. “I just hope it doesn’t go through. It’s a lovely neighborhood,” said resident Mergit Detrick.
Jennifer Smerud with Anchorage Community Mental Health Services said there are misconceptions about the mentally ill. Smerud said they are vulnerable people, and adds Hollywood draws the mentally ill as dangerous when they are not. She said this project would give the vulnerable affordable housing, and help them take the step towards recovery.
“This is an urgent problem,” she said.
The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority is asking the State for $3.4 million.
At this point, Senator Hollis French, the district's Senator, said although he doesn't oppose the idea, he's not pushing for the project in the capital budget until there's community support.
Last week, the Turnagain Community Council passed a motion against the project.
The Trust said it does, however, have support from Senator Lesil McGuire.
As for the hotel, it will remain open until it's purchased.