City of Albuquerque Launches Permanent Supportive Housing for Homeless Families

On December 31, the city of Albuquerque announced that it is launching an innovative rapid rehousing model that will provide navigational assistance to more than 200 people who are currently staying in a temporary shelter. These residents are staying in the COVID-19-safe shelter until they can find permanent, stable housing within their budgets. The program will be administered by Albuquerque's Department of Family and Community Services.

About the Fast-track Rehousing Program

The fast-track to supportive housing is designed to help people who are currently homeless and staying in a shelter. The program will start with 200 residents. About half of those residents are children. They are currently living in one of the city's five so-called "wellness hotels." The wellness hotels are non-congregate housing settings that were set up after COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic on March 13. Congregate settings put people at a high risk of COVID-19 infection. The goal of this program is to connect residents with housing and supportive services. More than 30 households have been enrolled in the program's first week. They are on the path toward permanent housing for their families.

What Albuquerque's Administrators Say About the Program

According to Mayor Tim Keller, the city's COVID-19 response for people who are homeless is focused around testing, care and shelter. The goal is to control outbreaks in this vulnerable population while also keeping them out of the elements and helping them get back on their feet with stable housing. The city's partners in the community are helping take down barriers. Together, the city and its community partners have made it easier for people, including kids, to make their way into safe and permanent housing situations.

Thoughts of a Fast-track Housing Participant

One person who has enrolled in the fast-track supportive housing program was living on the streets. She didn't think she deserved a chance at permanent housing and told officials to find someone more deserving. However, they thought she deserved a chance to live in a safe, permanent environment. They got her set up with a case manager. The city's community partners were able to get the woman signed onto a long-term lease for a home just before Christmas. The woman is now encouraging her homeless friends to work with the city's case managers so that they can also have a chance at securing a safe home of their own.

Community Partnership Plays a Large Role in the Program's Success

Mayor Keller explains that the community's partners play a large role in the program's success. They have essential resources that are scarce and fragmented within the government. The partners are able to create a cohesive framework that meets the needs of each individual in the program. The ultimate goal is to get each participant into long-term housing. The two main partners are Heading Home and Cuidando los NiƱos. These partners administer the $2 million of vouchers for the project. The case navigators are from these partnering organizations. These community partners also provide some on-site support services for the residents. This includes instruction and assistance with housekeeping, securing furniture and getting set up with functional appliances. The city provides the social workers.

This Program Is Just a Drop in the Bucket

Carol Pierce, who is the Director of Family and Community Services with the city of Albuquerque, said that this program provides just a drop in the bucket for what the community needs. Even so, the city hopes that it will be a successful model that can be scaled up in the short-term and long-term future. She hopes that the city and partners can capitalize on the successes of the program. She also hopes that by getting people off the street and into stable, safe and permanent housing, those individuals will have a lower risk of getting infected with the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping the most vulnerable members of the community is key to halting the spread of the disease.

What Program Participants Need to Do

People who want to participate in the fast-track to housing program work with an assigned case navigator. They must collect required documents in order to gain access to housing and support services. The case navigator also helps the individuals get set up with community-based healthcare services. If the participant has a child, the case navigator ensures that the guardian has the right resources to support the child's learning. A dedicated housing specialist reviews each application. The applicant's apartment is selected based on their family size and other factors.

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