Metropolis Reveals Plan to Take care of Homelessness Disaster, Albuquerque Journal

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Opening a 24-hour animal shelter, providing more housing vouchers, creating a new downtown public safety area, and providing more addiction and other support services are part of a multi-layered effort the city is proposing to address the growing Address the problem of urban homelessness.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said he plans to release today details of actions that can be taken immediately and other actions that are longer term. He stressed that this was a preliminary “hypothesis”

Adolphe Pierre-Louis / JOURNAL

would need the help of other companies like Bernalillo County.

Roberto E. Rosales / JOURNAL

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“We will lead the way with a plan for the community, but it will involve the entire community,” he said Wednesday in an interview with journal editors and reporters, including Bernalillo County and the University of New Mexico. “We’re tired of waiting, so we’re going to get into what we believe will at least move the needle in a meaningful way when it comes to aspects of housing and homelessness. There is no silver bullet, no idea that can fix this. “

The county has also invested millions of dollars in services for the homeless and formulates plans to make the best use of the gross income taxes it received three years ago to address mental and behavioral health issues.

Albuquerque’s estimated homeless population can reach 5,000, and many suffer from addiction and mental health problems.

An important city initiative would be to convert the nocturnal winter house on the West Side into a year-round 24-hour animal shelter for men, women and children. Keller said this is a temporary solution until the city has the money to build shelters around the city.

In addition, up to 1,000 people could be helped with residential vouchers and taken off the street, said Keller.

Providing vouchers is “the cheapest (measures) and has the highest return on investment to deal with this population,” he said. “This is a big part of the general homelessness problem, and it is a part that we should seek and share. So we propose ways to fund this. We will ask the community to come together and fund housing vouchers. “

In June, Keller and the Albuquerque Housing Authority announced a new partnership in which the city provided more than $ 1 million through the HOME program to increase rental assistance vouchers for Albuquerque Heading Home program customers. The program offers rental support for people who are switching to permanently affordable housing.

Keller has also worked with the city council to expand affordable housing projects, including the newly opened Sterling Downtown Apartments, and added $ 15 million to the affordable housing contract budget.

Keller said Albuquerque desperately needs a homeless shelter that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week – a safe place for people to stay overnight. Albuquerque has financed the operation of the West Side winter home for years, which is open every evening from November 15th to March 15th. Keller said the city plans to keep the winter home open year-round – and allow people to spend both days and nights there – until a more permanent protective solution is found.

Keller also noted that the city needs a triage center for health and addiction services.

The University of New Mexico Hospital Emergency Department is the only place people can voluntarily go or where the police or paramedics can use them to treat addiction or alcoholism or an immediate mental crisis.

But this treatment is expensive, and when an officer brings someone to the UNMH, Keller says: “The officer sits there for 8 to 9 hours, sometimes during a shift, and then that person is released and still goes straight back to the street.”

While there are some smaller treatment facilities available, they have barriers to admission such as: B. Expenses or the exclusion of people who are drunk or who use drugs.

Keller said the city could fund some of the cost of capital through voter-approved bond issues. He hoped the county could play a role in covering recurring operating costs.

“Working with Bernalillo County, UNM, the business community and nonprofits is critical to tackling homelessness and behavioral health,” he said.

Keller also said he is creating a new downtown public safety district where APD will deploy Crisis Outreach and Support Teams (COAST) to reach people in the Downtown and Wells Park areas who are homeless or in need of behavioral health Substance abuse services. The district will include a substation in the city center.

Keller said he has also developed a new leadership structure in the Family and Community Services Department to bring in expertise and accountability as the city focuses on education, behavioral health and homelessness, all of which have a huge impact on public safety.

Lisa Huval has been named assistant director, Housing and Homelessness, and Gilbert A. Ramirez is the new assistant director, health and wellness programs.

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