Inside the Gateway Center’s emergency shelter

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 26 people used the Gateway Center’s emergency shelter Thursday night.

The Gateway Center opened its doors as an emergency shelter earlier this week. Partners of the center make referrals for people who need a place to stay, and they get picked up in the evening and dropped off at the shelter.

In the women’s section of the shelter, there are 35 beds and a TV room. The men’s area, right now, is slightly smaller, housing 25 beds and another living room area.

All tenants are provided a hot meal for the night, and breakfast is provided in the morning.

The men and women who stay at the shelter also have their own shower areas outside, in trailers.

“Our team was nimble and able to convert this space, and it will likely remain open until April,” said Cristina Parajón, Gateway administrator. “Until then, when we’re able to shift upstairs to the Gateway program.”

The goal is to have these same tenants keep coming back to help permanently keep them off the streets.

According to city officials, the Gateway Center is still expected to open in late spring. Its goal is to be running at half capacity with 500 people using the center in 2023. They are hoping to reach full capacity – 1,000 people – in 2024.

The city is also requesting more funding to provide all the services the homeless community needs. Services would include a medical sobering facility and a medical respite facility, among others.

City officials said the state’s congressional delegation already secured $4 million for the project, and another $3 million was donated from Western Sky Community Care. The city plans to ask the Legislature for the rest.

“This $3 million is, essentially, we view it as matching or seed funding, from what is going to be a $20 million ask, for again, broader, second phase Gateway Center projects that will get us to that thousand number,” Mayor Tim Keller said.

Last year, the city asked the Legislature for $30 million for the Gibson Health Hub, but they didn’t get it. This year, they hope things will be different.