New city position aims to help find solutions for homelessness

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Time and time again, homeless camps are pushed from one block to another and then back again. City officials keep touting the voter-approved homeless Gateway Center as a solution – but it has yet to open.

There is a new face at city hall to help come up with solutions. It’s actually a new position altogether.

Elizabeth Holguin has been named the city’s new deputy director of homeless solutions and clinical advisor.

Holguin said this role essentially divides up existing duties at CABQ. Prior to this new position, one deputy director oversaw housing and homelessness.

This new hire will divide that focus – bringing a new set of eyes to those individual needs, and health issues that plague that community.

“They have created this role because it really is one of the mayor’s top priorities to address homelessness and our unhoused neighbors,” Holguin said. “We really need someone overseeing all the city contracts and programs that will deal with these unique individual need that people have so that we can eventually get them housed permanently.”

Holguin has a background in health care. Before this, she worked as a nurse practitioner and medical director for community health with Presbyterian. She has a Ph.D. in nursing and health policy.

“There’s a lot of behavioral health or substance use that can occur so more services will be allocated to address those needs,” said Holguin.

A tool when considering all of the necessary wrap-around services needed to truly impact those on the streets – an added bonus as the Gibson Health Hub and Gateway Center progresses.

“I would also love to see, sort of, an urgent care environment there to help people deal with needs to that were not overworking the already overburdened ERs,” she said.

Holguin is about two weeks in, so she’s really just getting her feet wet right now. But she said she is really excited and hopeful.