Twenty-four people believed to be homeless have died outdoors in Anchorage so far this year, according to Anchorage Police Department data. The deceased were found all over: In city parks. Tucked behind office buildings. In an encampment alongside one of the busiest roads in Alaska. The youngest was 30. The oldest was 74.
This year, city leaders say they believe overdoses — specifically on powerful, cheap and deadly fentanyl — might be driving the increase. Unhoused people have also endured a year of shelter instability, with the city’s main low-barrier shelter at the Sullivan Arena closing at the end of June, only to reopen three months later.