City, Housing Authority chipping away at Albuquerque’s housing crisis

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – You’ll notice 54 new, polished townhomes on Broadway, just south of I-40 in Albuquerque. But for leaders in the housing industry, they also represent progress.

“This is completion of our fifth project. So we have 26 sites across the city, and we’ve gotten five done,” said Linda Bridge, Executive Director of the Albuquerque Housing Authority.

AHA demolished 30 units and replaced them, which was the authority’s first new construction in 30 years. The other four have been rehab efforts. All of the AHA communities were built in the 70s and early 80s.

“It’s so important to preserve the affordable housing we have there, and then look at opportunities to expand because there is a much greater need than what we could serve just on this one site,” said Bridge.

Bridge says tax credits and federal funding only go so far, and there’s always a need for more local and state funding to fill the gaps, all as thousands of families wait for the vital assistance.

“There is a need for probably 10 times what we’re able to serve — between our housing vouchers and our public housing units, we can serve about 5,000, and there’s probably a need 10 times that amount,” said Bridge. “If you want community’s stability, if you want economic development, it all starts with housing, until you can get housing stability, you’re not going to get that community stability.”

The city of Albuquerque is working on the same issue.

City councilors recently agreed to zoning changes to allow families to build casitas on their properties, and progress continues on transforming a northeast Albuquerque motel into 100 units.

“It’s a drop in the bucket, and so we need to make that model easier. And we need to make it quicker, and we needed to make it faster,” said Joseph Montoya, the deputy director of the Family and Community Services Department.

The city plans to release a report on Sept. 1 outlining the amount of units they’ve completed, they have planned to be done, and how to realistically get more online faster.

Meanwhile, the AHA will start two more rehab projects by the end of the year, and acquired vacant land near an existing site to expand.