City partnerships house more than 630 homeless people

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With cold weather settling in, the city is creating more housing for homeless people with an added hope that the move will help slow down the spread of COVID-19. “The city is facing unprecedented challenges with our homeless population and this is happening all over the country and right here in Albuquerque,” said Mayor Tim Keller.

Right now, the city is partnering with Bernalillo County, the State of New Mexico, UNM Hospital, Presbyterian, Lovelace, and numerous non-profit organizations to identify homeless people with COVID-19 symptoms or possible exposure and is making sure they have access to testing care and other resources. So far, more than 630 people have been placed in emergency shelters. Four hotels are also housing homeless people who are elderly or have chronic conditions.

Mayor Keller says the city is seeing a critical housing need. “The need this year is extraordinary we have never seen this at least since we have been handling homelessness in the last decade or two in this manner in the city. So if you look at it one way, we have triple the number of folks in hotels or in the shelter that would normally have been there last year. It truly is all of the above in terms of a challenge, a crisis, and an extraordinary effort. So it is a challenge, a crisis but also an effort in terms of our community trying to help that many people,” Keller said.

On Monday, a fifth hotel will be opening for vulnerable populations like families and seniors who are not COVID positive. “The State of New Mexico has partnered and remained in constant communication with the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to support COVID relief efforts in the state’s largest community,” said CYFD Secretary and Emergency Shelter & Food Program Director Brian Blalock in a news release from the city. “Our collaborative, solutions-based approach has helped more than 1,000 New Mexicans recover safely in isolation with our comprehensive sheltering efforts in the Albuquerque area including first responders, healthcare workers, and those who could not otherwise self-isolate to recover. We remain committed to offering aid and relief alongside our county and city partners.”

According to the same news release, those in isolation at each hotel are provided with three meals a day and case management to identify permanent housing options, and WiFi for children to do schoolwork.

“It goes without saying that none of this can be accomplished without the hard work of the staff at the hotels. Staff provides operational support and medical supervision around the clock, seven days a week,” said Carol Pierce in the same news release from the city, Director of Family and Community Services. “Words are not enough when trying to express the gratitude for the teams of dedicated employees at each of the hotels and the work they accomplish each day.” If you or someone you know needs help call 311 to be connected with vital services.

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