- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Operators of a homeless shelter in Bethel say they’re struggling to deal with intoxicated residents.

Bethel Winter House Director Eva Malvich said she may be forced to shut down the facility if problems continue, KYUK-AM reported (https://bit.ly/2k3h8mT) Wednesday.

Malvich described an incident that took place earlier this month in which staff had to alert police.

“There were 22 people who were at the shelter, and these guys were pretty darn rowdy, and my workers called the police,” she said. “It took three hours for a response. In the meantime, we have people who are belligerent and acting out. We don’t like that kind of situation. We want to protect both our clients and our workers.”

Malvich said staff had to send people from the shelter to a sobering center “with cash that was out of the worker’s own pocket” because it took a while for officers to respond.

Winter House has hired a security guard, but the operation may not be able to afford the additional cost for long.

Malvich said she spoke with Bethel police Chief Andre Achee last week and he told her he would try to work more closely with the shelter, despite being understaffed. The police department could not be reached for comment.

Malvich said other organizations have reached out to help Bethel Winter House by providing donations and that Taxi Alaska offers free rides to the shelter.

Bethel opened its first liquor store in more than 40 years in 2016.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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