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First Responder Receiving Area to Open at Gateway Center

UNM Office of Community Health will begin overnight Receiving Area operations this month
January 03, 2024

Today, City leaders and local officials celebrated another milestone in the development of the Gateway Center. The UNM Office of Community Health will operate the Receiving Area for First Responders at the Gateway, which will open later this month. The Receiving Area is a first-of-a kind service in Albuquerque, offering Albuquerque Community Safety and other first responders a 24/7, non-medical, location to bring people experiencing homelessness who need help connecting to social service options. 

“Our city needs a place where first responders can take people to get resources no matter what time of day,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “With our new partners at the Office of Community Health and ACS operating 24/7, more people will get help getting off the street.”

The Receiving Area has a large reception room, offices, and four private triage rooms. Navigators and Social Workers from the UNM Office of Community Health will work with clients brought in by first responders to identify their needs for shelter, housing, transportation, or other services and facilitate those connections. Like all Gateway Center services, it is not a walk-up facility.

As an essential part of the Receiving Area services, transportation will be provided from Gateway to the Westside Emergency Housing Center or other local shelters and social service locations.

“We’ve married two big strengths of UNM Health- public health policy and development, and the health system’s approach to create links to groups in the community that do great work during the day,” said Dr. Art Kaufman, UNM Vice President of Community Health. “We’re going to give people something to eat, a place to sleep, bathrooms, internet access and all the things people need when they’re in a traumatic situation and suddenly disconnected. We’ll be navigating clients to the social and health resources they need.”

“One of the hardest pieces of building ACS has been that we haven’t always had an appropriate place to take people at night” said ACS Director Mariela Ruiz-Angel. “As we started our 24/7 operations we’ve hit over 4100 calls for service during graveyard hours and we’re so excited to now have a location.”

“We designed the Gateway to fill in gaps in our community’s homeless response system and this is one of those gaps” said HHH Director Gilbert Ramirez. “Dedicated staff will help people figure out what they need and get connected to vital resources they need to move forward that day.”

The Receiving Area will open to First Responders later in January and initially operate overnight until staffing levels accommodate 24/7 operations.

Gateway’s Housing Navigation Center, operated by Heading Home, opened in August and offers a 90-day program to help guests attain permanent housing with wraparound services enhanced by community partners. Since August, 154 people have come through the door.