Westside homeless shelter looking to reduce non-emergency calls to APD, AFR

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The westside homeless shelter could be relying too heavily on police and Albuquerque Fire Rescue for non-emergencies. That’s according to a new internal audit that says it creates a risk of taking those crews away from other public safety issues.

The city’s Department of Family and Community Services says it’s already been working for months with the shelter, the Albuquerque Police Department, and AFR to review policy changes.

“We’ve identified- really helping tighten up Heading Home’s protocols around when they call 911 to make sure they’re only calling in appropriate situations,” Deputy Director of Housing and Homelessness Lisa Huval stated.

The city’s Office of Internal Audit looked into the contract with Heading Home, which operates the west side emergency homeless shelter. It found that of 322 calls made to APD from the shelter over 10 months, only 38% of those calls ended in a police report being filed. AFR responded to 388 calls for service within the same time period.

At the shelter, there is 10 full-time security personnel listed in the Heading Home contract at a cost of more than $230,000 a year, but officials say they’re not trained, security professionals.

“We are looking at, going forward, what is the best way to provide security on site. Is it a professional security company?” Huval added.

They’re hoping to have their plan in place ahead of the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The audit also included a survey of people staying there that said, overall, people are happy with the westside shelter’s level of physical safety, medical support services, among other things.

The audit also found billing errors. Some of the invoices Heading Home submitted to the city added up to an extra $65,000 out of taxpayers’ pockets. The city will now be asking Heading Home to repay it.

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