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Housing fund signs change color, not message

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It has been two months since the colors changed at many busy Albuquerque intersections – specifically on the signs at popular panhandling spots.

Where once there were blue placards, there now are orange versions. And while the hue and language may be different, the signs’ intention remains largely the same: reducing the number of people living on the streets.

The blue signs that then-Mayor Richard Berry’s administration installed in 2015 urged people to call the citizen contact center, 311, for assistance finding food and shelter or to make donations.

The effort raised about $30,000 in 3½ years, according data provided by United Way of Central New Mexico, which collected and distributed the funds to nonprofits.

Mayor Tim Keller’s administration replaced those signs in June.

The 45 new orange signs – which cost $9,910 from the city’s traffic engineering budget – encourage citizens to “Give the gift of shelter” by making a contribution at donateabq.org. Money goes to the One Albuquerque Housing Fund.

The fund raised $3,745 in June and $1,372 in July, according to reports provided by the city.

That adds to donations already amassed since the fund officially launched last fall, bringing the total to date to about $18,000.

The city celebrated its impact with a news conference last week, highlighting a recent $8,000 allocation to help two formerly homeless people move into apartments. It paid application fees, security deposits and two months’ rent for each.

But officials say the One Albuquerque Housing fund is not meant to completely cover the city’s work to reduce homelessness.

In fact, the city has budgeted $10 million this year just for housing vouchers.

Lisa Huval of the city’s Department of Family and Community Services said the fund does allow individual citizens to add more money to the effort.

“Our attitude toward this fund is really every dollar makes a difference,” the deputy director for housing and homelessness said, adding that the city is pleased with the response so far.

“It made a huge difference in the lives of those two people who were able to get housing and move forward with their lives,” Huval said.

SEPTEMBER SPLASH: School’s in session, but the summer vibe still runs deep at city pools.

For the first time, Albuquerque will keep six outdoor pools open through the month of September, primarily on weekends.

• The Wilson, Eisenhower, Sierra Vista and Sunport pools will offer recreational swimming from noon-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 29.

• Rio Grande Outdoor Pool will offer hours on both weekdays (11 a.m.-1 p.m. for lap swimming, 4-6 p.m. for recreational swimming) and weekends (noon-5 p.m).

• The West Mesa Aquatic Center Indoor/Outdoor Pool will be open for recreational swimming on weekends from 12:30-2:30 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.; West Mesa’s indoor Olympic pool is open 10 a.m.-noon weekends for lap swimming.

The remaining outdoor pools have closed for the season and the indoor pools have begun winter hours.

Jessica Dyer: jdyer@abqjournal.com

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