Advocates call for comprehensive homelessness solutions in Albuquerque budget

Advocates call for comprehensive homelessness solutions in Albuquerque budget

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller is proposing the largest budget in the city's history. It comes to about $1.4 billion.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller is proposing the largest budget in the city’s history. It comes to about $1.4 billion.

A big chunk of that cash is earmarked for public safety and homelessness. The mayor wants more than $13 million for the Health, Housing, and Homelessness Department.

Some of that money would go to build a medical facility at the Gateway Center. This service will provide overnight patient care and social support. More money would go to helping residents get the help they need to overcome addiction.

“Medical sobering, we believe, we expect it to come online in the like fall, late summer to early fall. Medical respite will come online in the winter and there is funding included in there for operating those key pieces, key very important pieces of our program for homelessness,” said Kevin Sourisseau, a City of Albuquerque chief financial officer. 

While those millions are proposed to go to homelessness in the city, not everyone thinks that money is going to the right places.

One local organization argues not everyone goes to shelters like Gateway or the Westside Shelter, many are out on the street or sidewalks.

KOB 4 shows you where Compassion Services Center wants to see that money go.

“These people will never go to the shelters. They’re not going to go to Gateway. They’ll never enter into Westside. So we need to kind of think out-of-the-box,” said Pastor Joanne Landry with Compassion Services Center. “We saw so many homeless years ago here that we just needed to do something to help them. So this was created. We were able to create this beautiful place for them, the showers, night shelter for up to 41. We do recovery here, lots of recovery, and it’s working.”

KOB 4 spoke to Landry about the City of Albuquerque’s proposed budget. More than $13 million is going towards homelessness in the city, with big portions headed to the Gateway Shelter and Westside Emergency Housing Center.

“We’re really happy that Gateway and Westside shelters going to be receiving funds, but I really believe that the family and community services, they really need to add another component to the homelessness and that’s the curbside campers,” said Landry.

The pastor says that’s who she sees the most on the streets, and the majority don’t use the city’s shelters.

“Our idea, we presented to the mayor’s office last week, was to take these band abandoned apartments and houses and do some minor reconstruction on the inside and make rooms with doors, and they can all share bathrooms and kitchen,” Landry said. 

Many of the people facing homelessness are also battling addiction. Landry believes medical sobering at the Gateway is a good start but needs to be expanded.

“I think it’s a small group that’s receiving right now, and it’s such a large problem out here,” said Landry. “It’s really important that they create mobile units, and they have addiction specialists and trauma specialists that can get out there and work side-by-side with these curbside homeless folks and to help save their life.”

Landry says she believes in collaboration and wants to work with the city to figure out these issues together.

For more details on the proposed budget, click here.