Report: Nearly 50% increase in homelessness in New Mexico

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Homelessness in New Mexico does not seem to be getting better. In fact, a new report to the state Legislative Finance Committee shows a 48% increase in homelessness over the past year.

To keep that number from growing, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a new executive order this week that calls for the creation of an Affordable Housing Investment Council, although it is not clear when members will start meeting. The order takes effect immediately.

“The goal is, first, we don’t have available housing anywhere,” the governor said. “So, we need to identify building housing that’s affordable.”

The 11 council members include state representatives, senators, home builders and advocates for homeless and disabled community members. With a variety of backgrounds, they are tasked with boosting the state’s affordable housing development to meet an overwhelming demand and deciding how to invest the $82 million the state received for housing during the legislative session.

“We want to make sure that we’re getting stock built in every community,” Lujan Grisham said. “My goal is 30,000 houses in a year. I don’t think we’ll make that, but certainly, setting a pattern where that could be possible based on the resources.”

While efforts to close housing gaps and overcome zoning challenges will be addressed statewide, the governor said the council will focus on the communities with the biggest shortfalls like Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

“40 people a day are moving to Albuquerque with no ready, available stock for housing,” she said. “So that’s the whole goal, get the money out the door, start building properties, and then find tools so that they’re affordable by New Mexicans and other folks who need them.”

Some factors outlined in the affordable housing report that could be contributing to homelessness include a decrease in affordable renting units by 50% since 2020. The report also highlights a 70% increase in rent since 2017, even though wages have only increased by 15%.

The report further indicates the average New Mexican has more money going out than coming in, by stating that nearly half of renters are paying more than 30% of what they make to keep a roof over their heads.

You can read the full report here.