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Councilors approve HopeWorks village development deal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Planning for a 42-unit supportive residential building for those suffering from behavioral health issues and in need of shelter will proceed after Albuquerque city councilors on Monday approved a development agreement with HopeWorks and YES Housing, Inc.

The development agreement details the duties of HopeWorks and YES Housing, Inc. as co-developers and the city for the proposed village at 1215 Third St. NW. The agreement includes specific provisions for property management, project commencement and completion, real property acquisition and usage, quarterly monitoring reports and documentation of city/county funds.

After residents in opposition to the project addressed the council in August with subjects ranging from negative impacts on area business to neighborhood safety, city officials and co-developers added a neighborhood relations plan to the development agreement that will include community notification and engagement, as well as detailed steps to minimize and mitigate potential impact on the Wells Park Neighborhood.

One provision in that plan calls for HopeWorks to provide tenant selection criteria, eviction policy and house rules to neighborhood associations and online. Another provision calls for a 24-hour, non-resident, professional staff at the front desk, and secure entrances at the building and 24-hour on-call access to mental health professionals for front desk staff.

Doreen McKnight, president of the Wells Park Neighborhood Association, told councilors the group still had unanswered questions regarding the project, but also expressed appreciation to the council for allowing residents to have input into the agreement.

“While this may be considered an extraordinary step in allowing us to have comment and input on that, it should be the norm,” McKnight said. “I really encourage and hope the city continues that effort in the future in allowing community members to have input on huge development projects like this that can have a huge impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.”

McKnight told councilors that talks are underway to create a “good neighbor” agreement with HopeWorks, which was another provision in the development agreement.

The village will include one-bedroom units, designed to be both ADA-accessible and contain universal design features. The program will serve low-income individuals with homelessness or severe housing instability and frequent admissions to the Metropolitan Detention Center’s Psychiatric Services Unit, as well as frequent admissions to detoxification programs and frequent use of emergency medical services for behavior health needs.

The residential units will be located on the second and third floors of the building, while the first floor will be for behavioral health and case management services. The parking lot will be landscaped and trees will be planted along Fourth Street.

The building will also 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.

The project is expected to cost about $9 million and much of the money is already in place, including: $3 million from the National Housing Trust Fund; up to $630,000 in HOME Investment Partnership funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; $1.3 million from the New Mexico Housing Trust Fund; and loans of $2 million from the city of Albuquerque affordable housing funds and $2 million from Bernalillo County.

The county will also provide $1 million annually for behavioral health services offered at the site and rental assistance for residents.

Also during Monday’s meeting, two men were removed from the council chambers for disrupting the meeting during public comment.

Art Tannenbaum was removed after apparently going over a two-minute time limit in addressing the council, arguing with Council President Ken Sanchez for not allowing him to finish, then refusing to relinquish the podium for the next speaker. Tad Niemyjski was removed after yelling at the council, possibly in defense of Tannenbaum.

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