News this week the city of Albuquerque added a shuttle stop for homeless people between God’s Warehouse soup kitchen and food pantry in the International District and the now year-round 450-bed Westside Emergency Housing Center 20 miles west of Downtown is welcome indeed. It means many more folks who would otherwise have to tough it out for the night on Albuquerque streets can now sleep inside. On a bed. They can use a bathroom. And perhaps they can feel safe for a while.
It’s another stop on the way to full wraparound services to help homeless individuals integrate back into society.
Although data from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness says there were 2,551 homeless individuals in the state last year – including 201 families, 290 veterans, 182 unaccompanied young adults ages 18 to 24 and 891 people who were experiencing chronic homelessness – anyone who has simply driven around the metro area can spot a serious undercount when they see it. Local estimates are 5,000 to 8,000 homeless individuals in the metro area.
So the additional 6 p.m. shuttle pickup at God’s Warehouse gets more folks to a safe place to lay their heads (and then back into town in the a.m.). And what began as a lone pickup at Coronado Park at Third and Interstate 40 could expand further – the city’s Family and Community Services Department is considering additional pickup sites.