ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Bernalillo County Commissioners approved $621,000 to fund much-needed improvements at the City of Albuquerque-run Westside Emergency Housing Center (WEHC) for the homeless. Both the city and county said homelessness across the metro goes beyond city resources and demands a joint effort.
“Their investment in the WEHC is just a continuation of our ongoing partnership because we know that the city and the county knows that homelessness doesn’t stop at the border between the Albuquerque metro area,” said Albuquerque Family and Community Services Public Affairs Specialist Katie Simon.
“Putting our heads together is better than working in silos, and we feel it’s the right thing to do for the residents of Bernalillo County. Two great minds are better than one,” added Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Initiatives Senior Manager Pamela Acosta.
With thousands in funding allocated for the city’s largest emergency shelter, the city will put it to good use. Simon explained the money will provide new beds, bathroom renovations as well as privacy walls for people in sleeping areas. “We hope one of the issues with the westside shelter is that it used to be a jail. If you’ve ever been out there, sometimes it can feel like it’s a very industrial facility, so the more we can do to feel welcoming,” added Simon.
Since the closure of Coronado park, Acosta said the county is seeing an increase in people experiencing homelessness asking for resources. Simon said the emergency shelter is averaging around 380 men and women a week. The city stated they are hoping to see some of the improvements go in as early as this winter.
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Furthering their support for people experiencing homelessness, the county has also allocated more than a million dollars to a Winter Wellness Motel to house 50 families, which is set to open next week. Acosta said families looking for housing at the Winter Wellness Motel will need to be referred through agencies such as First Nations Community Healthsource, Healthcare for Homeless, HopeWorks, or the Westside Emergency Housing Center.