THE BLOG

Interview With Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan on Homelessness

05/08/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I was really honored that Mayor Sullivan took the time out of his busy schedule to speak with me this week. Anchorage, Alaska has a very serious homeless problem, and to make matters worse, a very serious alcohol abuse problem. I was told the official number of deaths in 2009 of homeless people was between 12-14. Most of them were alcohol related. What has not been officially reported was the number of deaths of people found in hotels, so the number of deaths is much higher.

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How serious is the problem? Several of the people were found dead with Listerine bottles next to the body. Original formula Listerine is 26.9 percent alcohol, making it approximately 54 proof. When stores are closed, or sale is refused, people addicted to alcohol drink Listerine.

In my next post, I will write about my own addiction to alcohol 20 and 30 years ago to help give some perceptive. During my visit, I also rode along with Anchorage Police and I am still trying to process everything I experienced. I will write about that too and add a video made with Sgt. Allen.

I wish I had answers for this community. The people of Anchorage are some of the nicest I have ever met. From what I saw (I was there three days), Mayor Sullivan is taking some of the right steps to solve a huge problem. But talk is talk, and the community must work together to turn talk into action. After this interview, Mayor Sullivan allowed me to join a homeless task force meeting. To be honest, I got emotional in the meeting. Not because I was there, but because I kept on thinking about what would happen in Los Angeles if all the homeless service providers and politicians got in a room and worked out real solutions.

I rolled second camera and that video can be found here.

Anchorage Press wrote a story about my visit.