Discussion over centralized homeless shelter continues

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local group that helps the homeless said it does not support the city’s plans for a new homeless shelter. It would be in a centralized location and replace the existing shelter on the west side.

The proposed shelter that would run 24/7 is the city’s answer in tackling the homeless problem, but not everyone thinks it is the right approach. Street Safe New Mexico, a group that helps homeless women, said most of the women it serves would not go there.

Some groups would rather see smaller, scattered shelters dividing men and women. In response, the city’s director of housing and homelessness said those shelters already exist, including the Barrett House and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center.

She said the proposed one-stop shop is the best option to help people access behavioral health services and secure permanent housing.

“Our hope is for an emergency shelter like this open 24/7 that is low-barrier and takes folks dealing with mental health, substance abuse and is large enough to have open beds at any point in time,” Lisa Huval said.

Huval said the city is working on designs to separate men, women, and children at the proposed shelter. She said the city could expand on the scattered model in the future if needed.

“After we build this shelter, if we still need more, we are definitely interested in a dispersed shelter model,” Huval said.

Huval said it would cost $15 million for construction and $5 million to operate annually. Voters will have the final say in the bond election next month.

If approved, construction could be finished by early 2022.

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