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PNS Daily Newscast - October 21, 2020 


A new report sizes up swing states like Michigan; voters with disabilities face new obstacles in Election 2020.


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New Proposal Aims to Solve Homelessness in New Mexico

A new analysis shows $61.3 million per year over two years and a one-time investment of $48 million in state capital outlay funds to build permanent supportive housing could solve homelessness in New Mexico. (fantareis/Pixabay)
A new analysis shows $61.3 million per year over two years and a one-time investment of $48 million in state capital outlay funds to build permanent supportive housing could solve homelessness in New Mexico. (fantareis/Pixabay)
January 13, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Service providers in New Mexico say homelessness is a solvable problem, but only if lawmakers step up funding for two evidence-based intervention programs. Ahead of the 2020 legislative session that starts on January 21, the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness has prepared a report to show how much it would cost to end homelessness in the state.

Hank Hughes leads the coalition and is encouraging lawmakers to make a one-time $48 million investment to build permanent supportive housing, and $61 million dollars over two years on programs to address homelessness directly.

"One being permanent supportive housing for people with disabilities. The other thing we want them to fund is rapid rehousing, which is short-term rental assistance for people who just need a hand up for a short period of time to get out of homelessness," Hughes said.

Hughes said because the chronically homeless are high users of crisis services such as ambulances, emergency departments, jails and shelters, new permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing would substantially reduce the use of those services among the homeless population and reduce costs to taxpayers.

Nicole Martinez is executive director of the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, serving Southwest New Mexico. She said homelessness is affecting everyone in the state, because mental and physical health and substance abuse are all made worse by homelessness.

"Ending homelessness has been sort of an evolutionary process in learning best practices and how to do that," Martinez said. "In the past, the focus was to make people comfortable in their homelessness - give blankets. But now we're really targeting people experiencing chronic homelessness, who've been on the streets for a long, long time; our homeless veterans."

Martinez said the improved economy means there is more money available for housing vouchers to help the homeless, but there's not enough affordable housing on the market.

"Say we have 500 vouchers. I don't have 500 units that meet fair-market rent or pass inspection," she said. "And so what we really need is some attention turned to creating more affordable-housing developments that are safe and affordable and sanitary."

A recent study by the University of New Mexico showed a 31% decrease in service utilization costs when a group of chronically homeless people in Albuquerque were housed for a 1-year period. Each year, 15,000-20,000 New Mexicans experience homelessness, but approximately 6,500 do not receive adequate assistance to exit homelessness.

Disclosure: New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness contributes to our fund for reporting on Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault, Housing/Homelessness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM