We now have to disrupt racist methods to finish homelessness »Albuquerque Journal

Following the publication of our Statement of Intense and Profound Love last February 2020, HopeWorks set out to identify and disrupt the racist systems that lead to homelessness.

HopeWorks – formerly St. Martin’s Hospitality Center – was founded in 1985 and is now one of the largest nonprofit homeless service providers in New Mexico.

Why is homelessness rising in Albuquerque?

Because until we overcome the intrinsic barriers of white supremacy that suppress the People of Color and people living in poverty, we will always take two steps forward and three steps back. When we remain complacent, we silently say that it is okay for some of us to have homes and others not.

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What are the obstacles?

• Wage inequality and inequality. 63% of extremely low-income households in Albuquerque are headed by a person who identifies as a BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, Person of Color.

• Lack of access to quality education for all.

• High levels of criminalization among colored people. In 2018, Black Americans made up 33% of convicted prison inmates, nearly tripling their share of 12% of the US adult population.

• Generational poverty. Because of all of the above, BIPOC families cannot make enough wealth to be left behind, and the cycle of poverty continues.

Just as anti-racism denotes a conscious, daily effort to reduce racism – and a lack of effort leads to an intensification of racism – “anti-homelessness” denotes the obligation of everyone to stand up for an end to homelessness.

Anti-homelessness means:

• Recognize that homelessness affects people of color most of all. Nationwide, 40% of the homeless are black or African American and 22% are Hispanic or Latino, making up 13% and 18% of the US population, respectively.

• Acknowledge that rounding up people in tent cities without adequate, affordable housing is not a long-term solution.

• Appealing to the City of Albuquerque and Mayor Tim Keller for an outrageous use of public funds in the purchase of Gibson Medical Center. With no money for a thoughtful, trauma-informed remodel, this takeover smells like a hasty, politically motivated money pit – long after Keller disappeared – that feels more like a prison than a welcoming place for shelter and all-round services. Did the local homeless support providers influence this decision?

• Work on investing in affordable housing and housing plus care – like HopeWorks’ Hope Village, the state’s first single-site project due to be completed in August 2021. This project on our campus offers living space for chronically homeless people in the community and offers 24-hour supportive care.

As long as political will disagrees and we recognize that our society has failed our most vulnerable – and indeed created homelessness – we will never end homelessness in Albuquerque.

The Urban Institute’s 2020 report on the state of the Albuquerque housing market contains critical and urgent recommendations. We encourage our city and county partners, local business and community leaders, and stakeholders to work together to ensure that the report’s findings become a reality:

• Develop an inclusive process to develop a common vision for increasing housing affordability and reducing homelessness.

• Increase the pipeline of affordable rental units in line with the market and receive / expand affordable units with grants. The city council just passed $ 5 million on affordable housing, which is not enough. Ten million dollars was the standard a decade ago.

• Expand rental support.

• Increase the number of exits to permanent living space.

We cannot continue to live in an unjust society in which the housed take precedence over the uninhabited. We have to work to be anti-racist and against homelessness. Will you join us?

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