- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Juneau municipal assembly will consider dipping into economic development money and hospital funds to fulfill a pledge to spend $1.5 million on housing for the homeless.

The assembly at the end of last year promised $1.5 million for the Housing First Project, a 34-unit complex for the homeless to be built on land donated by the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority. Operating money has been secured.

City finance director Bob Bartholomew on Wednesday presented a plan for coming up with the city’s promised construction money, the Juneau Empire (https://bit.ly/1AoOwb8) reported.

The plan calls for $600,000 to be taken from a dormant Housing Land Development capital improvement project, money generated by sales tax. The money previously had been designated for improvements to two areas considered for development, City Manager Kim Kiefer said.

The plan calls for moving $300,000 from Juneau Economic Development Council funding and $100,000 from Bartlett Regional Hospital funding to the homeless housing project. Assemblywoman Kate Troll questioned that proportion.

“I have a hard time looking for JEDC to put in three times more than the hospital does when the hospital benefits from the program and we are trying to get a 10-year economic development plan going,” Troll said.

The remainder of the $1.5 million promised for the homeless housing project could come from the city’s recently increased tobacco tax to $3 per pack. The additional tax is expected to bring in $1.7 million and additional sales tax revenue.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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