The gaps in critical services for our unhoused neighbors are clear. We see the encampments. We see first-responders unable to take people to appropriate places for care, often resorting to emergency rooms because other clean, safe places to rest and heal are simply not available. We know that those living unhoused are at higher risk of becoming victims of violence, and data shows that women are most at risk. We also know that to break these cycles, people need a path to stable housing and easy access to behavioral health treatment, physical health care and other services.
Take, for example, Sara, who does not have a home. She was discharged from the hospital directly to the streets with open wounds from repeated sexual assaults and a mental health condition that needed appropriate follow-up. In the past, government agencies and community partners would do their best to cobble together a shelter bed, case management, mental and physical health care. Sara would need to figure out transportation to and from all of these services.
At Family & Community Services, we see important solutions for people like Sara coming to life at the Gibson Health Hub. The City’s Trauma Recovery Center, recently launched at Gibson Health Hub, was there to help Sara with counseling. So were our Violence Intervention Program Peer Support Workers, taking critical first steps to helping Sara get the care, safety and stability she needs.
Still, Sara and our unhoused neighbors need more support. In addition to more shelter beds, we want crucial services under one roof for the best possible outcomes – outcomes that will help establish the long-lasting change our city and unhoused neighbors need.
As Phase 1 of the Gibson Health Hub is completed, shelter beds at the Gateway Center will initially accept 50 women and provide on-site case management to develop an exit strategy for each one of those individuals. A first-responder dropoff will provide another option for police, Albuquerque Community Safety responders and paramedics. Phase 1 will also include a medical respite program, creating a safe place for people like Sara to heal. Seven health care providers are also already in Gibson Health Hub: AMG, Fresenius Medical Care, Haven Behavioral Hospital, Turquoise Lodge Hospital, Zia Healthcare Services, New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Blue Stone Solutions. These providers serve both housed and unhoused neighbors. The Gateway Center’s Engagement Center will create space onsite for our community partners to provide job skills support, group therapy and more.
As we move into future phases of implementation, the shelter will be available for 100 single adults of all genders and 25 families. A medical sobering center will complement the social-model public inebriate program at the CARES Campus for low-acuity alcohol and drug intoxication and medical monitoring for sobriety.
The expansion in the Gibson Health Hub will be coupled with efforts to make sure the facility benefits the surrounding area. The city is establishing a partnership with surrounding neighborhoods to address public safety concerns. The city’s Encampment Outreach Coordinator Satellite Office includes team members who monitor and remove encampments from a quarter-mile radius around Gibson Health Hub. A new Neighborhood Advisory Committee will provide consistent engagement and information sharing.
There is no quick fix for the challenges of homelessness. The Gibson Health Hub will bring together the city and many valued partners to fill a number of gaps in our current system. It is all part of a vision to provide efficient and compassionate paths to a new life for our unhoused neighbors. You can view the city’s full strategy on homelessness at the city’s website: www.cabq.gov.