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Construction of tiny homes village to start in January

Construction on a tiny homes village is expected to begin in January after the Bernalillo County Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved additional funding. (Artist rendering by Baker Architects and Design)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Construction of a tiny homes village for the homeless on the grounds of the Albuquerque Indian Center is expected to begin in January after a unanimous vote by the Bernalillo County Commission on Wednesday to provide an additional $750,000 in funding.

The money from the county’s voter-approved behavioral health gross receipts tax will pay for unforeseen costs not included in the original design plan, said Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, who has been spearheading the project.

These include a new hydrant and water line, doubling of the number of communal bathrooms and showers from four to eight, some upgrades to the Albuquerque Indian Center, as well as some money to be held for further unexpected expenses. Money not spent at the conclusion of the project could be returned to the behavioral health fund.

The village of 30 tiny homes, each about 120 square feet, will be built on a 1.38-acre vacant lot behind the Albuquerque Indian Center, 105 Texas SE. The homes will ring the perimeter of the village, which will also feature a centrally located village house with bathrooms, showers, a kitchen, pantry, sitting and gathering space, and more.

The property will be extensively landscaped, well lit and contained behind a tall security fence made from cement block and steel slats, with one entry point guard gate staffed 24 hours.

Each of the homes will be made from structurally insulated panels, or SIPs, and will feature a small front porch, an internal fire sprinkler, electricity, a combination heating and cooling unit, clerestory windows, vinyl plank flooring, a built-in desk and storage space, and be big enough to accommodate a queen-size bed.

The project went to bid in September. The low bidder was Epic Mountain Construction, which came in with a bid of $3.502 million. That bid does not include the cost of the SIPs, which will be under a separate request for proposals.

The village is being funded with a $2 million general obligation bond county voters approved in 2016; a $750,000 bond approved in 2018; a capital outlay from the state for $595,000 for upgrades to the Albuquerque Indian Center building; environmental services gross receipts tax funding of $207,816 for water and wastewater infrastructure; and $75,000 from the city of Albuquerque for planning of the village.

“It was a real struggle to find a location for the tiny homes village, but it is so needed and it will make a difference in so many people’s lives,” O’Malley said.

The pilot project, if successful, can be replicated throughout the city and county, she said.

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