ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mayor Tim Keller and Albuquerque city officials held a press conference on Wednesday to highlight the local coronavirus response as well as the city’s outreach to the homeless population and the Westside Emergency Housing Center operations.

General updates

The New Mexico Economic Development Department is holding several upcoming webinars for local businesses on assistance. The next webinar is for all border businesses and will be on Thursday, April 16.

The state has launched a new iPhone and Android app called NMConnect that offers 24-hour free crisis and non-crisis support as well as access to behavioral health professionals who can call or text with individuals and also offer referrals for long-term support. The app also links users to the New Mexico Crisis Access Line that offers statewide safety net services. NMCAL is available toll-free at 1-855-662-7474.

Albuquerque City Councilor Cynthia Borrego has launched a children’s reading YouTube channel called “Lavender Libros” for New Mexico children. Reading broadcasts will take place every Wednesday until the state health order is lifted and will feature government leaders.

Albuquerque’s first responders demonstrated their support for healthcare workers on Wednesday by performing a drive-by tribute.

The Tohajiilee community has reached out to the city of Albuquerque for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic as current help is being directed to the Four Corners region of the Navajo Nation. They are asking for donations of nonperishable and packaged food donations. Anyone who would like to assist in these donations is asked to contact Albuquerque’s Emergency Operations Center at 244-8604.

Outreach to the homeless population

The stay-at-home order has directly impacted the homeless population as they are without shelter during this time. The City of Albuquerque’s Westside Emergency Housing Center has been open 24/7 to provide resources to those experiencing homelessness.

The center also provides COVID-19 testing as well as isolation pods should any residents become infected with the virus and to prevent community spread. At this time, there have not been any positive cases at the shelter however, they are expected to occur.

The city is also working to provide motel vouchers for those who are experiencing homelessness. Mayor Keller states that this pandemic has raised awareness for the need of the Gateway Center. The mayor says that there is positive progress for plans for the center and that the county commission may be able to provide assistance in getting the program together.

Director of the city’s Family & Community Services, Carol Pierce explains that they are providing those without homes with the necessary information regarding COVID-19. The department is also making sure outreach providers remain safe by providing personal protective equipment and necessary supplies.

The department is also getting national guidance from the National Healthcare for the Homeless during weekly phone calls that is shared with outreach providers. The Family & Community Services Department also offers services at community centers and Carol thanks the Herman Sanchez Community Center as it is now offering childcare for five first responders and the department is now looking towards additional avenues for child development.

The city’s health and social service centers have been offering food boxes as well as eviction prevention.