City funding on the way for 2 Safe Outdoor Spaces
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Two Safe Outdoor Spaces in Albuquerque are one big step closer to becoming operational, because city funding is on the way.
The Family and Community Services Department is working with Heading Home to help fund their two approved spaces at the Albuquerque Opportunity Center and the Westside Emergency Housing Center.
“We’re excited that as the weather gets colder we’re providing more options for people to go safely and get connected,” said Katie Simon, a public affairs specialist for the Family and Community Services. “We are helping them out with staffing costs for their case managers and security personnel, as well as utilities for their site, and certain things like parking barriers out at the WEHC to separate spaces – and then the fence over at AOC.”
Both spaces are approved for vehicles only, and could open by the end of the month. 12 spots at the opportunity center, and 40 on the West Side.
“That’s still 52 people that didn’t have a safe place to park beforehand, who are worried about their personal safety, who didn’t have a guaranteed place to use the bathroom,” said Simon. “And can much more easily be connected to case management, job training, anything that helps them move forward with their lives.”
Simon says the $750,000 pot of money approved by the city isn’t all spoken for at this point.
“Should there be future Safe Outdoor Spaces, we’ll be able to support them,” said Simon.
Dawn Legacy Pointe, a new nonprofit that applied to run the approved space on Menaul near the interstate, is still waiting on the result of several appeals.
But, Simon says funding isn’t off the table for them, or others who get approved in the future.
“As we start to roll these out and see what the needs are, you know, the contracts can be reevaluated as needed,” said Simon. “We’re kind of starting with six months at a time, see if they work, see how many people we can help in that timeframe. And if we can make a good argument for it, we’ll come back to city council next year and ask for money as we need it.”