CABQ preparing for the cold into the weekend

CABQ preparing for the cold into the weekend

The winter weather Thursday forced many to head to the Westside Emergency Housing Center – 390 men, 193 women, and 30 couples. According to city officials, they're ready for more this weekend.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City officials say the Westside Emergency Housing Center was not at overflow capacity Thursday night into Friday morning, but they’re ready if storms this weekend force many people to head to the main shelter.

“We have overflow plans and then we have backup plans for those overflow plans,” said Maria Wolfe, who serves as Albuquerque’s Homeless Innovations Officer. “So, we always make sure we have room for people who need shelter.”

That’s in line with Mayor Tim Keller’s message that he repeated at a press conference Thursday regarding winter weather preparations.

“Look, we all know homelessness is a challenge in our city, but we also understand that there is a warm place for every person who wants it tonight,” Keller said.

While Wolfe admits the WEHC may not be the ideal place to seek shelter for some, she emphasized the fact they do have space for both single adults and couples, and they provide visitors with cots, blankets, food, and warm drinks.

Also, you can call 505-549-0044 from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. and ACS will provide you with a ride to a shelter.  The city estimates about 10 people took advantage of that overnight Thursday into Friday, while 15 people called that number the night before.

“It’s an expandable system that we can add more if we need it,” said Wolfe. “So, if something crazy occurs in our community, we’re ready.”

That craziness could come in the form of another round of winter storms over the weekend, with more widespread snow and colder temperatures impacting many on Saturday into Sunday.

City officials also say they’re concerned for pets in addition to people.

“Just monitor the weather, bring the dog in when it needs to be brought in,” said Capt. David Rose with Animal Welfare. “Even some of the long-haired dogs need to come in.”

Albuquerque does have a lottery program for those looking for a doghouse who meet certain income requirements. The goal is for residents to be able to safely keep their pets at home, even during extreme weather, instead of surrendering them to a shelter.  Of course, bringing them inside is always the best option, when possible.

The application for that program can be found at

“That’s why we have this doghouse program to help people to keep their pets,” said Rose. “We have enough animals here in the shelter.  We would like for you to keep your pet at home.”

Additionally, residents can pick up straw to be used as an insulator at city-run shelters: