City councilors approve motion to improve Westside Emergency Housing Center
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque city councilors passed a resolution to appropriate $75,000 in funding for an outdoor recreation area at the Westside Emergency Housing Center.
This comes as a report from the Inspector General found several violations earlier this year – essentially saying it’s not safe to live there.
Charles McClellan has been homeless in Albuquerque or two years, and he says he’d rather live on the streets than stay at the Westside Shelter.
“Normal day it smells like urine,” he said. “And they don’t even have a janitor.”
McClellan says a normal day is also filled with bed bugs, broken showers, and other unsanitary conditions.
City councilors passed a resolution Monday night that would provide $75,000 in city funds to add a recreational outdoor area to the shelter, and address some improvements inside the facility.
Homeless Innovations Officer Maria Wolfe says this has been a concern since the shelter first opened.
“This was designed as a prison, as a jail,” Wolfe said. “Over time, we have found that it has become the shelter for our community because it’s the largest facility available.”
Earlier this year, the shelter was subject to an investigation by the Inspector General for reported poor conditions. The report claims that the shelter would not pass a fire inspection – it had broken showers, an inoperable kitchen, bed bugs, and multiple fire code violations.
Wolfe says renovations are already underway inside the facility, which houses over 500 people during the winter.
“We’re trying to make it an environment that is not a negative space for them,” Wolfe said.
The shelter also continues to connect its guests to resources, with the goal of finding a permanent home and getting back on their feet.