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New Chance of Survival for City's Chronically Homeless

Albuquerque Heading Home Get Major Push from Federal Grant. $1.5million awarded to help Albuquerque’s chronically homelessness

Albuquerque—Albuquerque’s chronically homeless have a greater chance for housing and treatment due in large part to a $1.5 million grant awarded to the City of Albuquerque by the Federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The grant will provide $500,000 per year for three years to move 75 of the community’s most vulnerable homeless people off the streets and into supportive permanent housing.

“Albuquerque continues to show leadership on issues important to cities across America,” Mayor Richard J. Berry said.  “Our Federal government recognized that what we’re doing in New Mexico for our chronically homeless population is the smart way to do the right thing and they are willing to invest in this project so that our most vulnerable have a greater chance for survival.”

With these new resources, Albuquerque increases its ability to provide treatment and service support to people who are chronically homeless – those who have spent many years without a home, struggling with alcohol and drug use as well as other physical illness that perpetuates their homelessness, and makes them vulnerable to extremely poor health, or early death.

Grant funds will also be used to strengthen commitment between public and private, non-profit and governmental organizations working to end local homelessness.  The Albuquerque Heading Home initiative will use SAMHSA resources to formally establish a consortium, integrate and coordinate assistance across health and service systems and toward shared goals. The initiative will designate available housing to those most at risk. It will leverage local resources for more effective and intensive outreach and social supports to the highest users of emergency care in the city.  The Metropolitan Homelessness Project, a nonprofit collaborator, will serve as lead organization to develop the consortium and communicate progress to the community.

The initiative was launched by Mayor Berry in Albuquerque in February 2011.  The first phase of the initiative focused on establishing a surveying process and registry to identify the most vulnerable chronically homeless individuals, based on a standardized Vulnerability Index measuring risk of mortality on the streets.  This was completed by more than 200 volunteers who mobilized to the streets during the coldest week in Albuquerque’s history.

The second phase, supported in part by the SAMHSA grant, realigns our community’s service direction and resources away from a strictly “first-come/first-serve” approach toward one that prioritizes housing and support to those most in need.  An independent evaluation process will track the effectiveness of this initiative and provide feedback and accountability to program participants and the larger community.