BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – After years of struggling to fill the multi-million dollar Tiny Home Village, Bernalillo County now claims the effort to help house the homeless is nearly full.

“We revised the criteria for somebody to move in here, really just removing those barriers that people have when they are unhoused or precariously unhoused,” said Tiny Home Village Program Manager Sarah Spain.

After opening in February of 2021, the rules to move into the $4.9 million Tiny Home Village placed big hurdles on people looking to get off the streets. “Previously, you had to have some type of sobriety to get in here,” Spain said.

The Tiny Home Village Program Manager said just one year after opening, the 30-unit village sat nearly empty, housing only four residents. The county said a lack of staffing, around-the-clock care, and strict rules prevented people from moving and staying in the village at the time

“We have really worked on reestablishing the criteria, reestablishing the interview process to get people who are unhoused into safe housing as quickly as possible,” Spain said.

After the county revamped the program in February, Sapin said the village quickly began to fill up. They removed some rules around sobriety for people moving in while also waiving the $30 monthly rent and utility fees.

“Currently, we are almost at capacity, so we have 26 out of the 30 homes filled, which is a great accomplishment,” said Sapin.

After ending up homeless and living in her car, one woman who’s called the Tiny Home Village home for the last six months said it’s been a huge blessing in her life. “

When I was sleeping in my car or at people’s house from church, I felt like a lonely worm. [I] didn’t know where to go, and then when I go, there it was like the cocoon I needed to feel safe, and now when I get my own apartment, I will be spreading my butterfly wings,” said Dannette Todd.

Tiny Home Village managers said since February, they’ve helped nearly two dozen people transition into permanent housing. They are currently working on getting through a waitlist of more than 50 people before opening applications back up.