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Helping the homeless may get a bit easier

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Donating to help homeless people could soon be as easy as donating to help homeless pets.

At least that’s the hope of supporters of the city’s “Heading Home” initiative, which provides housing to chronically homeless people.

Mayor Richard Berry and Dennis Plummer, chief executive officer of Albuquerque Heading Home, met with business leaders Thursday to talk up ways to make it easier for people to donate.

The Apartment Association of New Mexico, for example, now allows anyone who leases from its members to pay a little extra on their monthly rent check, which is then passed on to the project.

Berry and Plummer also hope to see home-improvement stores and the like start offering customers the chance to add a few dollars to their purchase, similar to the system pet stores often have. Something similar could happen for homeowners, they said, either by adding some donations at the close of a purchase or through additions to mortgage payments.

“This hasn’t been done before that we know,” Plummer said in an interview. “We’re asking today for the housing industry to be creative with us.”


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The mayor said the goal is to make it easier for people to donate.

“This is something people can do to help those in our community in great need,” Berry said.

Over the last two years, the program has housed 171 chronic and vulnerable homeless – those most likely to die – with an 87 percent retention rate. That doesn’t include family members of the participants.

The effort saves taxpayer resources that would otherwise be spent on emergency services, supporters say. A February survey found there are fewer homeless in the city than there were two years ago, dropping by 454 people from 1,630 to 1,176.

“The number of chronically homeless on the streets of Albuquerque has dropped significantly,” Berry said Thursday.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal