Study: New Mexico Homelessness Up Nearly 50% in 2023
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Rent for New Mexicans has increased 70% since 2017, while wages have only grown by 15%, which is one factor pushing more people into homelessness.
The state's Legislative Finance Committee reviewed a report this week, which showed nearly half of renters are cost-burdened and pay more than a third of their income on housing.
Kathleen Gygi, program evaluator for the Legislative Finance Committee, said new data showed the state's emergency shelter capacity has more than doubled in the past seven years, while the supply of affordable rental units has declined by 50% since 2020.
"Homelessness increased by about 48% last year over the year before," Gygi reported. "In addition, rising housing prices and lack of supply of housing units has increased the number of low-income New Mexicans who cannot afford their rent."
There are almost 4,000 homeless people in New Mexico after nearly a decade of declines. Gygi acknowledged while emergency shelter capacity has increased, especially in Albuquerque -- the state's largest city -- moving people into permanent housing has proved to be more difficult. She noted cost-burdened low-income residents face a high risk of losing shelter.
According to the report, January's "Point-in-Time" count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness showed there were plenty of beds available at many shelters across the state, but only about 50% were utilized.
Amy Whitfield, housing and homelessness adviser to the governor's office, said more work needs to be done to find solutions.
"We don't know the numbers that tell us exactly what to build, where to build it and how to build it," Whitfield pointed out. "We've got a lot of different ideas that say we need more permanent supportive housing, we need more multifamily housing. We don't really know for sure how much of that we need and which communities we need it in."
Last year the New Mexico Coalition To End Homelessness estimated about a quarter of those experiencing homelessness were coming from outside of state.
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