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City Notified that I-25 Site is Off the Table for 300-Bed Gateway Center

Mayor Keller convening working group to discuss City, County, University collaboration on the Gateway Center and Homelessness.

March 13, 2020

Today, the City confirmed that it was notified that after significant review and input, the University of New Mexico is no longer interested in pursuing the empty lot they own off of the I-25 Frontage Road, just south of the State Laboratory, for consideration as the possible site of the Gateway Center—Albuquerque’s first-ever 24/7, low-barrier shelter that was approved by voters last fall.

“Last fall, voters gave our City a mandate to step up and address homelessness with a 24/7 gateway center,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “For all our public institutions, there is a moral opportunity to come together and make a difference on a growing problem that affects the entire community. With this option now off the table, we are convening elected officials from the City and County, as well as UNM, to work with us on the remaining options, or a possible combination of sites. We are continuing our collaborative efforts, and also dedicated to doing all we can with the funds we have to make a dent in all of our homelessness challenges.”

After an extensive process of public input, conversations and meetings with stakeholders, and expert review, the City identified three finalists for possible locations: the UNM-owned land, the former Lovelace Hospital on Gibson, and Coronado Park. All three locations met feasibility requirements: close to services, relatively low-impact to surrounding neighborhoods, and possible within the Phase 1 $14 million budget approved by voters.

“With UNM eliminated for the main site, our focus shifts to logistics at Lovelace or Coronado, or a combination of the sites, to meet the needs of the homeless population and our city as a whole,” said Carol Pierce, Family and Community Services Department Director.

UNM has expressed interest in finding ways to support the Center, potentially including resources, service provision, other lands and even the possibility of a smaller, women and children-only shelter on their land that would supplement the mission of the Gateway Center.

To that end, the Mayor is convening a working group including City, UNM and County administrative leaders and elected officials, to work in partnership to hammer out remaining details on a site, design, construction, and operation of the Gateway Center.

“We are committed to working with the City and the County in solving the challenges of homelessness in our community,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes. “Although the use of UNM land for the Gateway Center is not a viable option for us, we will continue to work closely with our partners to serve vulnerable populations and improve Albuquerque’s national reputation as a great city in which to work, live and play.”

“Bernalillo County is absolutely on board with the City of Albuquerque to make the Gateway Center project come to fruition as soon as possible. We have already begun construction on our Tiny Homes Village, and are committed to being a key part of the solutions being brought forward to help our homeless population,” says Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca.