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Mayor Presents Key Recommendations from the Native American Homelessness Task Force

August 28, 2015
Albuquerque- Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry announced recommendations that came from Albuquerque’s Native American Homelessness Task Force created last year in partnership with PNM and New Mexico Pueblos, Tribes and Nations. The key recommendations that emerged from the task force are aimed at improving the quality of life for all Native Americans in the City of Albuquerque.
Over the past year, the 18-member Task Force hosted several community dialogues to discuss the problems, research the availability of resources, and to find best practices to improve the quality of life of Albuquerque’s Native American population. The Task Force, led by Chairman Sherrick Roanhorse from PNM State Government Affairs, has put forth immediate, short-term, and long term priorities for the City to consider. Attached to this document are the 14 key recommendations that came from the Task Force.

“Sherrick Roanhorse has done an excellent job leading this task force in crafting solutions for our underserved homeless Native American population,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “I believe this task force has come up with a national model for thoughtful and strategic allocation of resources and services to make our city a better home for Native Americans living in Albuquerque.”

Recommendations include appointing a Tribal Liaison for the City of Albuquerque named Dawn Begay to coordinate with tribes and non-profit partners serving Native Americans. The task force has also asked the city to implement cultural competency training for individuals who regularly interact with homeless Native Americans in Albuquerque. As a result of this recommendation, training provided through the UNM Health Sciences Center’s Center for Native American Health/Institute for Indigenous Knowledge and Development, will be made available for over 175 city employees, a number of frontline service providers and case managers, and Albuquerque Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) and Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST). The City of Albuquerque has also allocated $320,000 to the First Nations Community HealthSource for a Wellness Center that will provide the local community with food, job training and healthcare.

“The Mayor and the City of Albuquerque are taking significant steps to address homelessness among Native Americans. By appointing a tribal liaison and putting resources toward cultural competency training, we are establishing a solid foundation to help address homelessness and lessen its impact among Native Americans in Albuquerque,” said Sherrick Roanhorse. “Addressing homelessness is an ongoing challenge that will require ongoing collaboration and partnerships between the city, tribes, non-profit partners, and private sector.”

The Native American Homelessness Task Force was created in response to last year’s homicide of two homeless Navajo men. After the incident, Mayor Berry met with then-Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, as well as Governors from Sandia Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, and Isleta Pueblo to discuss the problems facing the Native American community in Albuquerque. As a result of that meeting, a task force was created with representatives from both the City of Albuquerque and representatives from New Mexico Pueblos, Tribes and Nations, including the Navajo Nation, All Pueblo Council of Governors, Pueblo of Laguna, and Pueblo of Zia, Bernalillo Off-Reservation Native American Health Commission, and N.M. Behavioral Health Collaborative 17.

Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Chairman, President,and CEO has been a strong partner in support of the Task Force by loaning Sherrick Roanhorse to serve as the chairmen of the Task Force for over a year.