The five residents of the Tiny Homes Village are planning a Thanksgiving dinner together. (Mike Sandoval / For the )
Copyright © 2021
The residents of the Tiny Homes Village are planning a Thanksgiving meal together – albeit a relatively small get-together. There are now only five inmates, up from eight last July.
The nearly $ 5 million transitional housing project for the homeless was designed with 30 self-contained, 120-square-meter houses and communal buildings for toilets, showers, cooking, laundry and meeting rooms.
It opened in February after a series of construction supply line delays related to COVID, and district officials expected it to be fully occupied by July, as previously posted on the district’s website.
That didn’t happen.
According to Bernalillo County spokesman Tom Thorpe, two residents of the Tiny Homes Village relapsed, became disruptive and had to leave the house. A third inmate died from a pre-existing health problem.
The county is currently reviewing the process of screening potential residents. The 2021 point-in-time survey counted around 1,560 homeless people living in Albuquerque.
“We looked at the requirements for living there, and chances are they’re a little too strict, so let’s review and revise them,” said Thorpe. “Some of the people who, for one reason or another, failed and were passed over could be eligible residents.”
Ilse Biel, the village’s resource manager, previously told the journal that the selection process for applicants had not only proven to be time-consuming, but also a little too restrictive for many members of this population group.
Under current guidelines, applicants with addictions must be in recovery, have no extreme behavioral or mental health problems, and must not be a registered sex offender or convicted of sex crimes.
After enrollment in the program, residents are not allowed to consume alcohol or non-prescription drugs or take them to campus with them. Residents are also expected to participate in the administration of the village, help with the screening of new applicants, undertake community duties, participate in safety and maintenance, and with case managers and others providing social services and resources to the personal development work.
Tiny Homes Village residents, who were never intended to be used as shelters, can stay at Tiny Homes Village for up to two years while being surrounded by social services, finding work, and becoming independent and financially stable enough to get out and own their own To be able to afford an apartment.
Lack of clerks
Another problem was the lack of full-time case managers in the village. However, Thorpe said residents have access to part-time occupational therapists and social workers who visit the village.
In addition, they can access a variety of resources through the county’s Behavioral Health Services division, as well as community resources such as Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless.
Carolyn Chavez, the newly hired caretaker of the Tiny Homes Village, said that as the screening process and village life rules are reassessed, the temporarily suspended application process will be resumed despite being unable to submit an application set timeline.
The Tiny Homes Village is on the site of a once weed-strewn property behind the Albuquerque Indian Center at 105 Texas SE. Debbie O’Malley, the Bernalillo County Commissioner, led the Tiny Homes Village project, fighting the prevailing “not in my backyard” sentiment from neighborhoods that are considered potential locations.
The location search was resolved when the AIC offered their property, which was already being used by the homeless.
“I’m disappointed, but I’ll take some responsibility here,” said O’Malley. “I think in many ways we couldn’t react quickly enough. First of all, we should know that as a county we cannot turn around and hire people right away. That’s not how it works. It takes between three and six months. To be honest, we should have increased staff when the village opened. “
O’Malley also said that if case managers were on hand, the village might have stepped in and prevented the relapse of the two former residents who were forced to leave.
Still, she remains optimistic.
“The Tiny Homes Village is beautiful and doesn’t go anywhere. I really think everyone is really committed to making this project a success, ”she said. “We only made a few mistakes.”
However, this should not affect the current residents of the village, who have a roof over their heads, a clear vision and a lot of gratitude for this Thanksgiving.