Bernalillo County commissioners approve funding for family housing shelter
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Bernalillo County commissioners voted to fund four full-time employees at what used to be the Winter Wellness Shelter. That shelter now has a new name and mission.
It’s called the Family Wellness Shelter, because the more than $400,000 commissioners approved to hire these workers means they can keep the shelter open year-round.
The program coordinator says that’s a big deal because dozens of local children call that shelter home.
The shelter’s location is confidential. Some of the people who live there are domestic violence survivors.
On Tuesday, KOB 4 talked to Benton Chavez, the program coordinator. He says the goal is to get people back on their feet and eventually in permanent housing.
The shelter has case managers to help, but they’ve had to share those case managers with other shelters, and bring in people from the Public Safety Department to help.
Chavez says 23 families live in the shelter right now, with about 30 adults and 50 children. The shelter is nearly always at capacity.
“Speaking with APS as one of our biggest referring agencies, there’s a need we could probably do four or five of these shelters, double up the rooms, and I don’t think it would make a dent in all the homelessness, especially with the children,” said Chavez.
The program also partners with Albuquerque Public Schools to get those children to and from school, and tutors come to the shelter twice a week.
Chavez used to work at Juvenile Detention Facilities. He says children would commit crimes to get off the streets and into a safe place.
So, to be able to provide a home for children to be children means everything to him.
“Just getting stable, just having some place to come home, to call your home. Even if it’s for a short period of time it does wonders for people’s mental health and overall well-being,” said Chavez.
The City of Albuquerque is also getting in on the fight to end youth homelessness.
Leaders are eyeing the San Mateo Inn at San Mateo and I-40 as a potential young adult campus. That’s an initiative to provide a safe living place for people 18–24 years old as they learn how to be independent.
City Councilor Renee Grout says that could include children aging out of foster care.
City leaders say they’re in the very early stages of negotiations with the owner of that location. But the city does have $8.5 million set aside for that project.