ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A homeless shelter on the city’s west side has had its problems with bed bugs. Now, the city is preparing to spend more than a quarter of a million dollars to try to keep the pests at bay.
“We have been working on improving the Westside shelter for a long time,” said Maria Wolfe, homeless innovations officer with Albuquerque’s Health, Housing, and Homelessness Department. She said the Westside Emergency Housing Center wasn’t originally intended to be a shelter, and they’ve been working to improve it since it opened to year-round operations four years ago.
“The reality is, the beds we’ve been working with at the shelter are the beds that were already there before it was to become a 24/7 shelter,” Wolfe explained, “Those beds have been used and used and used, and it’s time for good beds. It’s time for the right beds, for the right use, and the right location.”
So, next week, they’ll be asking City Council to approve the purchase of 450 heavy-duty bug-resistant beds—along with mattresses, pillows, and linens—for nearly $350,000, which the county will reimburse.
A spokesperson for the City said these new beds are actually part of ongoing infrastructure upgrades. In March, the City approved more than $600,000 from the county to go towards improvements to the shelter. This is part of that funding.
“They’ll last a long time. They’re solid, and they are secure, and they’ll help keep our residents safe and healthy,” Wolfe stated.
Acknowledging previous struggles keeping bed bugs out of their dorms, Wolfe said they have procedures in place to keep the bed bugs out. These beds are the necessary next step.
“We have more than 400 people sleeping there a night already, and we know that that number is going to grow with winter. So, we’re making sure we have the best beds we can provide to them with great linens that will take care of them.”
Wolfe said City Council needs to approve the funds. Once they do, they’re working to have the new beds brought over by the truckload as soon as the company can send them.