The mayor’s office is working toward tackling Albuquerque’s homeless problem with housing vouchers and wants to get that message across by posting signs throughout the city.
Bright orange signs to be posted near the interstates and at busy intersections encourage people to donate to the city’s housing voucher program.
“It’s basically help with paying the rent,” Housing and Homeless Deputy Director Lisa Huval explained. “Some is short-term, some is longer term, plus case management services…Our hope is that folks choose to invest in the One Albuquerque Housing Fund versus giving to panhandlers at intersections.”
The orange signs replace the campaign from the Mayor Richard J. Berry administration, which had people call 311 to donate to local service agencies instead of giving money directly to panhandlers. That program raised $30,000 in just under three years.
“We just prefer the One Albuqueruqe Housing Fund because we feel it’s a little bit more of a targeted approach,” Huval said.
In just over six months, Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign has raised $9,000, soon to be distributed to the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico, Huval added.
“I’ve been off and on homeless for the last…better part of the last decade,” said Jay Geirisch, who stated he would look into the program to find housing so that he can work toward locking down a stable job.
“It would help me, it would be the number one thing that would help me,” he added.
However, local homeless shelter Joy Junction CEO Elma Reynolds believes people should seek out treatment or case management services before getting set up with housing, if needed, to help keep them from falling back into homelessness.
“Most of the homeless in the street are dealing with drugs and alcohol and it’s just like giving them a home, it will just make it worse because they have their own privacy to do what they want,” Reynolds said. “Put them in a program and deal with whatever problem they are dealing with so they will be responsible when they have their own place.”
The two orange signs near Rio Grande and I-40 are among the first of 27 to go up. They cost about $10,000 in total and that comes from the Department of Municipal Development’s budget.
The housing voucher program accepts any size donation to cover the costs of move-in supplies, up to a year of rental assistance, and case management support.