Albuquerque approves third Safe Outdoor Space

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start. That’s according to Steve Decker, the CEO of Heading Home, when it comes to Safe Outdoor Spaces.

“Safe Outdoor Spaces we don’t believe to be the final answer,” said Decker. “When no one else is stepping up, we felt like we needed to.”

Heading Home, the state’s largest provider for the homeless population, will operate two of the three approved spaces in Albuquerque.

“Where we can provide support, resources, showers, toilets, and not put them out in a field,” said Decker.

Both spaces will neighbor facilities the organization already operates – the Albuquerque opportunity center, and the West Side shelter.

“We have staff on site already, we have security on site already, we have facilities for people to use. So in my mind they’re simply an extension of what we’re already doing,” said Decker.

The plan is to cater specifically to people who live in their cars. Decker estimates that’s about 300 people across the city.

“It’s not so much about safety as it is so much about the ability to progress,” said Decker. “If you’re moving every single day you’re never going to get to a point where you can have a stable job and save enough for an apartment or a home. Nothing that has been in Albuquerque to date has worked to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness. Nothing. If there’s a new opportunity like Safe Outdoor Spaces, why not try it.”

Neither space currently has any appeals from the public, compared to seven appeals for the first approved Safe Outdoor Space on Menaul near the Big-I. An officer will hear those seven appeals next week.