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Administrators of the Tiny Homes Village are looking to redirect $500,000 in county money to cover casework and around-the-clock staff as the transitional housing site anticipates ramping up operations.
“It’s just to go toward helping with the regular operations,” said Carolyn Chavez, a village manager, on Wednesday. “The amount of money that we are operating off of right now is enough for the current amount of villagers, but as we scale up we obviously just need to scale up that funding as well.”
There are currently four residents of the Tiny Homes Village, which was constructed for nearly $5 million and opened in February 2021 with 30 stand-alone, 120-square-foot homes and communal buildings for toilets, showers, cooking, laundry and meeting spaces.
Since then, the village has never had more than eight residents at a time living there. The 2021 Point-in-Time survey counted about 1,560 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people living in Albuquerque. There are currently 65 resident applications that village administrators are waiting on reviewing until the additional funds are allocated, Chavez said.
The half-million dollar funding will come from the county’s Behavioral Health Initiative, said Charlie Verploegh, the initiative’s assistant director. Specifically, the money will be made available by reassigning $500,000 from the $1 million allocation for community engagement teams.
“Once we started running that (community engagement) program, we realized we could run it on $500,000,” Verploegh said. “We have a contract right now with Youth Development Incorporated, or YDI, to run that program. We realized we just don’t need a full million to run community engagement teams, though we would love to have that much. But there just isn’t enough money to go around, and the Tiny Homes Village really needs it, so we’re moving it.”
Technically, Behavioral Health doesn’t need permission to move the money, Verploegh said, but in the interest of transparency the question will be brought before the Bernalillo County Commission on March 29.
Last November, a county spokesman said finding acceptable residents for the transitional housing community may have been too difficult because of the stringent requirements, and those might have to be reworked.
Chavez said that reassessment process has been completed, “and we’re still kind of polishing the final version.” One of the requirements that has been changed is that people with addictions will no longer have to be in recovery for 30 days in order to be accepted as residents.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t have certain requirements around recovery and harm reduction and those kind of things, but we’re not going to be requiring that they have been in recovery for the last 30 days,” Chavez said.
Guidelines that remain in place include disqualifying potential residents if they have extreme behavioral or mental health issues that prevent them from living independently, if they are registered sex offenders or have been found guilty of sex crimes. Residents also must agree to participate in a host of chores to maintain the property.
The Tiny Homes Village is located on the grounds of a once weed-strewn lot behind the Albuquerque Indian Center at 105 Texas SE. Never intended as an emergency shelter, residents can remain at the village for up to two years while they are surrounded by social services, find employment, and become independent and financially stable enough to exit and afford their own housing.