photo Todd Clarke


$1M From Feds Would Add Transitional Housing for Homeless Families

Transitional housing options for Albuquerque’s women and children exiting emergency shelters are limited and waitlists are long — circumstances that can result in a return to life on the streets for families experiencing homelessness. However, $1 million in funding requested by Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-NM, would expand housing availability for the vulnerable group.

Transitional housing programs are considered crucial to fill the gap between a shelter and permanent housing. The programs also typically provide more wraparound services than shelters, but stays are still limited — ranging from a couple of months to a couple of years. Critically, advocates say, it allows time for families to get back on their feet and become more financially stable before facing low inventories and high housing costs.

If approved, the $1 million request would come from Community Project Funding (CPF) through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Stansbury said while the final amount could increase or decrease, the need is clear.

“We need to modernize our shelters and create more transitional housing,” Stansbury said in a statement to City Desk ABQ. “These issues don’t discriminate. Housing instability and homelessness is a story that too many people in our state are experiencing.”

The Barrett Foundation operates the Barrett House, an emergency shelter that has served about 40 women and children a night for decades. It intends to submit a bid for the CPF funds, which will be overseen by the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority in a request for proposals (RFP) process.

The Barrett House recently extended its maximum six-month stay due to the lack of transitional housing options and historically high rents and home prices in Albuquerque.

“There are not enough options, and we want to ensure that families have support because we know that homelessness is traumatic — and if it’s traumatic on adults, imagine how the trauma impacts children,” Cory Lee, Barrett House CEO, said. “We’re excited about the fact that [the funding request] brings to light the issues that homeless women and children are navigating.”

Lee said that if the Barrett House is successful in its bid, it would put the $1 million toward the purchase of transitional housing apartment units.

“We are still in the early stages, but I’m looking at how it could support the purchase of a property,” she said. “We’re here to create a home and create a space where people can decompress and process the trauma of homelessness, regain their bearings, and then work to identify and maintain permanent housing.”

Lee said she’s noticed an increase in the number of Albuquerque nonprofits that serve families experiencing homelessness.

“Even though there are more organizations doing some amazing work, we’re still seeing long waitlists, which to me suggests that there are more women and children out there navigating homelessness,” she said. “All of these organizations are completely full.”

Lee added that families maneuver through the perils of homelessness differently than others and often aren’t as visible.

“We don’t have a full understanding of how many women and children are homeless on any given night because quite a few women are couchsurfing with their little ones,” she said.


Katie Simon, spokesperson for the city’s Health, Housing & Homelessness Department, said that while there are always more people in need of transitional housing than available resources, there’s positive movement.

In addition to the infusion of federal funds, she said work is being done through the city, the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness and the Homeless Coordinating Council started by Bernalillo County.

“There’s a focus on unhoused families, especially chronically unhoused families, so there is momentum at the moment to make changes to better serve families,” Simon said.

The city’s transitional housing voucher program (also called rapid re-housing), is distributed through several Albuquerque nonprofits.

“An organization administering a one- to two-year voucher from the city would pay for the family’s apartment on the private rental market and provide case management for that time period,” Simon said.

The Barrett Foundation issues vouchers, along with Catholic Charities, Crossroads for Women, Cuidando Los Niños, HopeWorks, S.A.F.E House and TenderLove Community Center.

“If there are families with severe disabilities or behavioral health issues, that’s when someone might qualify for a higher level of assistance like a permanent supportive housing voucher or other state and federal benefits,” Simon said.

There are other organizations, like Saranam, which operate campuses with living units for families in the Northeast Heights and the Westside. The city also funds emergency motel vouchers, but those are intended to provide a free room for a night or a short stay.

Source: “$1M from feds would add transitional housing for homeless families