Updated: February 06, 2020 02:29 PM
Created: February 05, 2020 10:22 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— City officials released the results of an online survey that asked people where they wanted to see the new city homeless shelter built.
Out of the nine potential locations, the top three sites are I-40 and 2nd Street, UNM Health Sciences center just south of the state laboratory, and the current location of the Westside Shelter. According to the results, 3,200 voted in the online survey that was open for about a month and a half.
Voters approved millions of dollars in general obligation bonds to fund the new homeless shelter, Gateway Center, during the election last November.
More than 30% of voters said Gateway Center should be built near I-40 and 2nd Street. Many believe it would be a good idea since homeless services are already offered in that area.
Some nearby business owners said building the center there would only increase homeless-related problems.
"My concern is there is a city park, skate park, and beautiful dog park no one can even use,” said Denise Baker, owner of Rio Bravo Brewing Co. “So if they intend to pursue this [location] for having the number one choice I would like a guarantee they will reopen it for the community."
Another option for the shelter is a vacant lot owned by UNM.
UNM Health Services released a statement that said they’re talking with city officials so they can be part of the solution:
“The University of New Mexico has been in discussions with the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County on the best ways to address the needs of the homeless population in our community. In those discussions, the possibility of utilizing currently vacant land near the office of the medical investigator/state lab has been mentioned. Nothing has been decided and you will see from the survey that other locations are being considered.
Our mission at UNM Health Sciences is to treat every New Mexican with the highest level of care possible. Being part of the solution to address the mental health, substance use disorder and housing needs of residents goes to the heart of that mission. It is not enough to just treat those who enter our emergency department, we must invest in comprehensive, compassionate care. Partnering with local governments ensures we continue to deliver more to those in need.”
The third most voted for location would be to expand the already established Westside Shelter, which is about 20 miles from downtown.
According to the survey, voters said they want the homeless to have access to support services like medical, mental health and transportation.
In the next few weeks, city officials will rank all of the sites by the criteria people voted for in the survey. They will also talk to the UNM Board of Regents and homeless people themselves to get their input on where to build the shelter.
The city council plans to discuss the homeless shelter again in March.
UNM will host forums this week to get more community input. A survey will be sent out to the UNM community after those forums.
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