ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Bernalillo County is putting up more than $3 million to help homeless veterans. The money will be used to help build a three-acre campus for housing homeless veterans in the area.
Brock Wolff, the CEO of Veterans Integration Centers, says on any given night, there are more than 30,000 homeless veterans on the streets of America. To tackle this problem closer to home, they are creating an entire campus to give veterans and their families some help.
“The national statistics are about ten percent of all homeless are veterans,” Wolff says. “You can figure about one in ten people that you see on the streets homeless are veterans.”
“These are our heroes that have signed on the dotted line and have helped defend our country and support it and we really feel that they should be the top of the list of any services that are provided out there,” Wolff says.
The Veterans Integration Center of New Mexico wants to build a three-acre campus near the southeast side of the I-25 and Gibson interchange. It would include a 20,000-square-foot supportive housing center with 42 beds and 33 units of low-income housing for veterans.
“What we’ve found with these veterans is you give them a hand up, they thrive. Eighty percent of the veterans that come through our program a year later are permanently housed,” Wolff says.
The campus will house support services for substance abuse treatment, mental health care, and financial help. It will also have a food pantry, donation center, walking track, dog park, gymnasium, and more.
“Basically, we’re creating a veteran campus and we think they can be around their battle buddies. They can be with those people that they can relate to and do group work and mental health work,” Wolff says.
“This program is the type of program that has that comprehensive approach. This isn’t just, ‘get ’em a place,’ it isn’t ‘just take away the places that they have;’ it’s actually offering them that hand up and a place they can go, and I think that’s the message that we need to send to all the homeless,” Wolff says.
The entire project is expected to cost around $18 million. The project has also gotten more than $3 million from the VA, and a million from the City of Albuquerque. The county’s portion is coming from the eighth-of-a-cent Behavioral Health Tax.
They hope to break ground in February, and the project is expected to take a year to complete.