Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque city councilors on Monday were tasked with an unenviable job.
Like recent meetings on the city and Bernalillo County’s proposed tiny home village project, another large gathering of residents participated in another conversation about the city’s homeless challenges.
And after more than two hours of public comment and deliberation, councilors voted 5-3 to award $2 million to St. Martin’s Hopeworks/YES Housing Inc. for the proposed Hopeworks Village, a 42-unit supportive housing multifamily development for those suffering from behavioral health issues and who are in need of shelter.
Councilors Pat Davis, Trudy Jones and Brad Winter cast dissenting votes. Councilor Don Harris was unable to attend the meeting.
Many spoke supporting the project, with its proposed site near St. Martin’s Hospitality Center on Third Street NW. Others spoke in opposition, with subjects ranging from negative impacts on area business to neighborhood safety to cost justification.
The Rev. Vincent Chavez, pastor of St. Therese Parish and Catholic School, told councilors that the proposal will not solve “this serious issue.”
“We the residents and businesses of North Downtown, Wells Park and near North Valley are overstressed and are at wit’s end,” Chavez said. “None of us, the deprived neighbor or our residents with an actual roof over their heads has a quality of life, security and well-being as long as the homeless issue has no real permanent solution.”
St. Martin’s was the sole bidder on the project, whose scope includes purchasing land and property, planning, designing, constructing and improving a single-site behavioral health services center with associated supportive and transitional affordable housing.
The Department of Family and Community Services issued a notice of award to St. Martin’s in June and is in negotiations on a development agreement with the project team.
Councilor Isaac Benton, who sponsored the appropriation bill, said the council will consider approval of that development agreement at a later date.
“There is a road map before us,” Benton said. “This is a top priority – this type of project, and no one is saying this is the only project. In fact, given the population, eventually there should be more of these projects. What this project is intended to do is to serve the most severely threatened people in the homeless community.”
The proposed Hopeworks Village will include one-bedroom units, designed to be both ADA accessible and contain universal design features. The building would include a management office, a maintenance room, a central front lobby, a social services provider’s office and additional service space, as well as public gathering spaces and laundry areas on the second and third floors.
About $3 million in Bernalillo County funding and housing vouchers and about $4 million from the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority is also available for the proposed project.