Westside shelter adds computers, behavioral health care and career services

The homeless shelter on a mesa about 45 minutes west of Downtown Albuquerque is trying to be more than just a roof over someone’s head.

The Westside Emergency Housing Center in the past six months has added medical and behavioral health care, and career services for the men, women and children who stay on site. In recent weeks, the center opened a computer lab with about 15 computers that previously were at the Cesar Chavez Community Center, said Gilbert Ramirez, deputy director of the city’s behavioral health and wellness programs.

“This is part of our multipronged approach that includes emergency shelter, pathways to permanent housing and all the services that are needed in between for addiction, medical care and finding work,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement. “No one government agency or service provider can meet all of these needs alone, but strong partnerships to implement proven models can make all the difference in people’s lives.”

The shelter is now offering medical and behavioral health services two nights per week, with much of the medical professionals coming from the University of New Mexico Hospital, said Carol Pierce, director of family and community services.

Centro Sávila, a mental health center in Albuquerque’s South Valley, is providing behavioral health care at the shelter a couple of nights a week, Pierce said.

New Mexico Workforce Connections is providing career counseling in the new computer lab, according to a city news release.

The city on Tuesday didn’t provide contracts describing the scope of the new work those agencies are doing at the shelter.

For the first time, the housing center is operating year round. In the past, the old jail was open only in the winter months. The city has also increased the number of places where it picks up people in need of shelter and buses them to the site.

Pierce said about 285 to 300 people are currently staying at the facility each night. The emergency shelter can house a maximum of about 450 people, including men, women and families.

The city has budgeted about $4.4 million in contracts for the housing center’s operations, which include the costs to shuttle people to the shelter.

While the scope of services being offered at the shelter is increasing, the city is also looking to build a new one.

The city is asking for voters to approve $14 million in general obligation bond funding to start work on a centralized, 24/7 homeless shelter and services center, which is part of a $128.5 million capital program up for a vote in next month’s election.

“If we don’t step up and help with that bond issue, the homelessness challenge is going to get worse,” Keller said. “We’re asking people to take the first step.”

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop


Joint Chiefs chairman calls Afghan war a 'strategic failure'
ABQnews Seeker
The top U.S. military officer called ... The top U.S. military officer called the 20-year war in Afghanistan a 'strategic failure' and told Congress on Tuesday that he believes the U.S. ...
'Hamilton' single tickets go on sale online Oct. 5
ABQnews Seeker
Award-winning musical tells the story of ... Award-winning musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton
State not releasing spring standardized test results
ABQnews Seeker
Only 10% of NM public school ... Only 10% of NM public school students participated last year
Donation builds on long legacy of conservation
ABQnews Seeker
San Juan County rancher gives two ... San Juan County rancher gives two easements to state for 12,500-acre site
Isotopes win home finale of 'important' season back with ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Albuquerque Isotopes, who successfully ushered ... The Albuquerque Isotopes, who successfully ushered New Mexico sports fans back into action with the first large-scale public gathering in May put a bow ...
Making room: Major expansions at Presbyterian, UNMH well under ...
ABQnews Seeker
A pair of New Mexico's largest ... A pair of New Mexico's largest hospitals are making headway on massive construction projects, ...
Lawsuit filed in fatal balloon crash
ABQnews Seeker
FAA report last week said pilot ... FAA report last week said pilot had cocaine, marijuana in his system
ABQ restaurants mark reopening with free food
ABQnews Seeker
The Feel Good and Modern General ... The Feel Good and Modern General Feed and Seed offer free meals Tuesday and Wednesday
Cool weather, rain expected for New Mexico this week
ABQnews Seeker
National Weather Service office in ABQ ... National Weather Service office in ABQ focused on 'heavy rain and flash flooding risk'