A homeless shelter in Ketchikan, Alaska, has appealed to city officials for extra funding after cruise ship passengers started taking advantage of the facility’s free food and drinks.
Ketchikan boasts a population of barely 8,000, but hosted roughly 944,500 tourists last year as a frequent stop for cruise ships taking passengers through the Inside Passage.
The First City Homeless Services had 365 visitors during 2015 — up from 110 last year — and chairwoman Evelyn Erbele told the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly Monday that the influx includes cruise ship passengers who enjoy the shelter’s complimentary services.
“If we have a snack, they’ll take the snack and they’ll sit there and watch TV,” Ms. Erbele said, The Associated Press reported. “It’s called ‘audacity,’ isn’t it?”
Despite the hospitality, tourists haven’t been especially willing to donate while dropping by, AP reported
“Sometimes some of the stores are not open really early, [so] sometimes people will come up here and get coffee and just hang out,” said Chris Alvarado, the shelter’s services manager, AP reported.
First City asked the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Finance Department in February for $14,000 to go toward keeping the shelter open for longer during weekends, and acknowledged in its request that its services are available to anyone who may be interested in stopping by while in downtown Ketchikan.
The shelter is located roughly one-tenth of a mile from the docks at Ketchikan, and not much other than a local DMV and police station are located between the two.
“We are for the homeless, but we’re also for the community, for anybody, who needs a safe place to stay,” Mr. Alvarado added. “This door is open for anybody who needs resources. … I just can’t see myself turning somebody away for a cup of coffee even if they’re not from here or they’re using the bathroom or if they needed a break from walking around.”