Man Dies at Alaska Center for Street Alcoholics

Karluk Manor, a former motel-turned-treatment facility where chronic alcoholics are allowed to drink in their apartments, is shown Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. Resident John Kort, 54, died New Year's Day. Police say they were told Kort passed out and appeared to be intoxicated before being found unresponsive.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska—A man who was slurring his speech and appeared intoxicated was found dead on New Year’s Day at a controversial center in Anchorage where chronic street alcoholics are allowed to keep drinking.


The center has been under fire for its unconventional approach to dealing with alcoholism in Anchorage, where advocates have been looking for new ways to help homeless alcoholics after more than 20 people — most of them severely intoxicated — died outdoors over a 12-month period in 2009 and 2010.


Employees checked on 54-year-old John Kort several times Sunday after a visitor noticed that he appeared drunk and was having trouble walking. Kort was escorted to his room where a manor employee lay him down on the bed and rolled him onto his side. When he was checked 40 minutes later, Kort was sitting on the floor with his head against the bed. He again was placed on his bed and on his side.


When an employee checked on him a third time, Kort was face-down on his bed, not breathing and his hands were cold, said Anchorage police spokesman Dave Parker. Police and paramedics could not revive him.

Parker said there was no suicide note. Alcohol and perhaps pills are believed to be factors in his death. An empty prescription pill bottle was found in his room.


Karluk Manor, which opened less than a month ago in a former Red Roof Inn, is based on the Housing First model that maintains that chronic alcoholics are best-served by providing them with safe housing as a first step toward self-sufficiency and eventual integration into the community. The manor was modeled after the 1811 Eastlake project in Seattle, where hundreds of housing units have been provided for chronic alcoholics.


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