Santa Fe city leaders move forward with safe outdoor spaces plan

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SANTA FE, N.M. – The City of Santa Fe is working to tackle its homelessness issue one step at a time.

The mayor and city councilors overwhelmingly approved safe outdoor sleeping spaces a few months ago. Since then, they have been working behind the scenes to make the plan a reality.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution. There is no one reason why people become homeless,” said Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber. 

Webber says it’s important to try different approaches. The city’s latest one in the works is safe outdoor sleeping areas, equipped with pallet homes.

City leaders approved the idea in April, and have since ordered 25 homes to get the pilot program started. 

Webber says they’ll be here by the end of the month.

“It’s been tried in other communities, it works. It provides safe sleeping areas, it also interestingly leads to safer neighborhoods,” said Webber. 

Because part of what comes along with the small communities is a commitment to the neighborhood around it to provide 24/7 security, and wrap-around services. Each community will also need electricity, and hygiene stations.

“Done right it’s really attractive. It’s like being in a little community where there’s a winding path, it’s not just lining them up. It turns it into a place where people feel good about where they’re staying,” Webber said. 

City teams are putting finishing touches on two different requests for proposal: one for the land, and one for the services.

Leaders are expecting a positive response from nonprofits and religious organizations when the opportunity opens.

“When you have a plan, when everybody is in alignment, when government, private sector, nonprofits, religious organizations, the community are all in alignment. That we want to save people’s lives, it’s been done, and we can do it in Santa Fe,” said Webber. 

The city should have the requests for proposal ready shortly after the homes arrive later this month.

Webber’s goal is to have land and services lined up by this fall.