Gateway won't be 'giant emergency shelter' - Albuquerque Journal

Gateway won’t be ‘giant emergency shelter’

Homelessness has been in the Albuquerque spotlight for years, and the city is committed to building a system of care with community partners and working together toward solutions.

As a step toward that goal, the city purchased Gibson Medical Center (GMC) in April, building on its long history as a health hub for the community. We are expanding health services for the community and adding a Gateway Center to provide trauma-informed shelter and supportive services to those experiencing homelessness.

We continue to reach out to neighborhoods surrounding GMC and are hosting community input meetings. It’s important to address misconceptions and set the record straight about the GMC:

1) The 572,000 square feet facility will not be transformed into a giant emergency shelter with 500 beds. It will continue to serve as a health hub with existing tenants and be expanded to provide needed health resources in our community. The Gibson Health Hub will include a Gateway Center component to connect shelter participants to services and housing through individualized transition plans.

2) The city has not abandoned the dispersed shelter model in favor of a single, large shelter. The existing dispersed shelter model will continue and the Gibson Health Hub, including the Gateway Center, will add another piece to that system.

3) While medical respite for people who are unhoused will be one of the services offered at the Gibson Health Hub, this isn’t the same as shelter. Albuquerque has limited availability of medical respite beds and needs more. This is a good example of investing in services that save money down the line. Medical respite beds will provide a place for people to recover from surgeries or injuries that aren’t severe enough be hospitalized for but are too serious for them to be discharged to the street or taken care of in a shelter.

4) The city will work with community nonprofit organizations, as we already do, to operate the shelter, medical respite and support services – creating jobs in the community.

5) The Gateway Center is not a replacement for affordable housing, supportive housing or other community resources. Housing and support options are critical to helping those who come to the facility to transition into housing.

We know this Gateway Center won’t solve the issue of homelessness in Albuquerque, and this is not the end of the road – it’s another step that will expand the system of care for our unhoused neighbors. The city continues to invest in these priorities through $29.6 million in social services contracts with local partners that provide shelter and behavioral health services, along with rental assistance and case management to attain and retain housing. Our annual investment in supportive housing increased by 44% since FY18. More affordable housing will be made available through $11 million in the Workforce Housing Trust Fund and on top of the $5.4 million spent in FY21 to build/renovate affordable housing. Recently, a $21.6 million investment for emergency rental assistance added new support for landlords and tenants to keep people who are in danger of losing their homes.

This administration is making bold decisions to create change. Voters gave a clear mandate. The decision to move forward at GMC was not done in a vacuum and was the result of working on high-impact strategies with the Homeless Coordinating Council – comprised of CABQ, Bernalillo County, UNM and many community partners who sat on committees to dig into the work. Unfortunately, one of our partners, Hopeworks, which receives $3.5 million in funding from the city for supportive housing, didn’t participate much and now seems to be only interested in criticizing the progress being made instead of being part of the solution. That lack of participation apparently makes its officials unaware the city has allocated $4 million toward operations and $3.5 million toward facility maintenance and trauma-informed renovations.

The Gibson Health Hub and Gateway Center is a continuation of the city’s commitment to address the health needs in our community, as well as the needs of our unhoused neighbors. This project will complement the existing network of support in our community. Learn more at cabq.gov/unhoused.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Gateway won’t be ‘giant emergency shelter’


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