2 projects – one struggling, one new – look to combat ABQ homelessness
August 19, 2018 01:20 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It's a consensus among many in the city: The homeless problem is getting worse.
And there is little agreement about the right way to address the issue. Two projects – one just beginning, and the other struggling to keep its doors open – highlight those differences.
"(There are) many, many, many examples of success," Pastor John Hill said of Steelbridge Ministries, the operation he presides over as CEO and president.
Hill has lead the faith-based resource organization for 14 years. Formerly called the Albuquerque Rescue Mission, Steelbridge Ministries has been helping feed the homeless for 64 years.
Since that time, it's transitioned to a full-blown shelter equipped to house and teach homeless clients for up to two years. But that mission is in jeopardy.
"So we're saying to the community, 'We need your help right now,'” Hill said.
The financial situation is dire. Steelbridge Ministries' base of donors is aging and it's trying to attract the attention of new donors. Staff there say they recently went through layoffs and nearly had to abruptly close when they almost failed to pay the employees they do have.
Steelbridge Ministries operates entirely off of donations.
"Change can't occur in people's lives without the knowledge and the acceptance of Christ. So, we do that. We say that unapologetically," Hill said.
Meanwhile, another project to help the homeless is just getting off the ground. A voter-approved $2 million in affordable housing bonds has been allocated to be used for a tiny house village to help the homeless get housed.
"They have an address," said Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O'Malley. "They have a safe place to stay at night."
Saturday was the last of three public meetings on the issue. County commissioners will still have to vote on where to put the village.
O’Malley said she foresees more government funds being used to operate the facility.
"We will provide some operating funds for it, as well. Then the non-profit will also seek grant funds for it,” she said.
However, Hill is less optimistic a tiny house village will make a lasting impact.
"My thought is this is not a government issue," Hill said. “This is inhumanely possible for them. It takes something so much greater than this—it takes the body of Christ."
If Steelbridge Ministries closes, around 70 people would be forced back on the street.
The tiny house village is designed to house 30 to 45 people, and the commissioners will soon vote on where to put it.
Created: August 19, 2018 01:20 PM
Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved