New leaders appointed to tackle homelessness in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Gateway Center is officially open and providing shelter to some of the city’s homeless population.

The city has hired a manager for the Gateway Center, and then created a new position called a homeless innovations officer. Their top priority is to enhance programs and services for homelessness in Albuquerque.

“I am programs and operations, everything operations that’s related into this, this whole facility is what I do. So it’s everything that you just said, it’s caring for the women, caring for the staff, you know, go in and see how we can hire more case managers, we need case managers. And, uh, you know, resources, networking providers, getting the Engagement Center together,” said Dr. Azka Naru. 

She says this week she has been giving tours of the Gateway Center to service providers who could move in. She’s also looking for more employees.

“You know, consider this a shout-out people who are interested for case management or interested to do this work. Please connect with the Gateway Center. We need people,” Naru said. 

Outside of the Gateway Center the city has hired Maria Wolfe.

“My title is homeless innovations officer for the City of Albuquerque Health, Housing and Homelessness Department,” said Maria Wolfe. 

Her job is not as focused on the Gateway Center. Instead, she will work on homelessness as a whole.

“What I need to do is try to make it so that we don’t have gaps between the services, we need to have that continuum of care, have warm handoffs. Where instead of giving somebody a piece of paper and saying, ‘Go there.’ We actually put them in a car and drive them there and say, ‘Hey, this is, you know, Joe, or Sue, and they can help you,’ and get them really connected,” said Wolfe. 

She works with the Gateway Center but also the Westside Emergency Shelter, other nonprofits, Albuquerque Community Safety and the Solid Waste Department.

“My challenge is to be out, working with people building those partnerships, and literally sometimes talking with people who are homeless to understand their journey. And like, what has happened,” said Wolfe. 

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