ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If all goes as planned, the first group of men and women will find themselves living in Albuquerque’s first Tiny Homes Village by early December.
Ground breaking on the cluster of transitional housing units for people who are homeless was held in March and the project was supposed to be completed by October. Because of COVID-related supply line issues, that completion date has now been pushed back to early December, said Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, who spearheaded the effort.
“It’s coming together nicely,” O’Malley said Thursday, “but the delay was unavoidable.”
Located on a formerly weed-strewn 1.3-acre lot adjacent to the Albuquerque Indian Center in Southeast Albuquerque, all 30 of the sturdy 120-square-foot units are now standing. Workers are in the process of finishing the insides and doing preparation for extensive landscaping throughout the property.
Three identical “home” buildings have also been erected and will be used for a guard shack, a donations building and a tool shed.
A satellite bathroom/shower building and a large communal Village House containing bathrooms, showers, a kitchen, pantry, living room, laundry room, computer area and office space are also nearing completion.
Each of the tiny homes will be wired for electricity and have electric heating and cooling, a queen-size bed and shelves. All of them will be attached to a sprinkler system as required by fire and building codes, but none will have indoor plumbing, O’Malley said.
Project manager, Bernadette Miera, said a multi-level selection and vetting process has been set up to determine who will live in the Tiny Homes Village, whose day-to-day operations will be managed by the Albuquerque Indian Center.
“Referrals will initially come from organizations that provide services to the homeless, and who will evaluate candidates to gauge their mental health and their ability to live in a communal village setting,” Miera said.
An independent, three-person committee will then look at the referrals with input from managers at the center. Eventually, residents of the village will also be given a voice in the vetting process, she said. Residents will be allowed to live in the Tiny Homes Village for up to two years while they take advantage of available social programs to help them with any issues related to addictions, behavioral and mental health and other problems that may have contributed to their homelessness. Those who can will be expected to re-enter the workforce or get job training, “and a village resource manager will work with residents to help them find permanent housing,” Miera said.
The cost of the Tiny Homes Village project is about $3.4 million, most of which came from Bernalillo County. Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson provided $75,000 from her discretionary funds for planning.