ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Bernalillo county spent nearly $5 million building the Tiny Home Village hoping to solve the city’s homeless population. But after having been open for more than a year, the majority of the homes are still empty. The county is asking for an additional half-million dollars to help fill the vacancies.
“We’re just looking at trying to get a little more operations funding for the village. This was a pilot program from the beginning. Once we got started we realized that the program design needed some adjustments,” Tiny Home Village Manager, Carolyn Chavez said.
Chavez says the $500,000 in annual funding will help provide around-the-clock care for the villagers which would include case managers through a contract with UNM, helping villagers move towards more sustainable housing.
“It’s really to provide the villagers with the day-to-day help that they need by transitioning from sleeping outside to trying to get passed towards sustainability and safety,” said Chavez.
Why staffing an issue, and why didn’t the county see the need when the village opened in February of last year? “Last summer we realized the program design that we started with wasn’t working well and so we went back to the drawing board a little bit and started working through that program design. It was a pilot, it was a first of a kind thing in Albuquerque,” said Chavez.
After spending $4.92 million to construct the Tiny Home Village, many may be wondering if the additional half-million dollars a year will help fill the 30 homes after 26 currently stand empty. “It’s a lot of hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars. I’m sure that I and my fellow commissioners want to make sure that any more money put into the tiny home village will go directly to helping as many people as possible, said Bernalillo County District 5 commissioner Charlene Pyskoty.
The Village manager says there are 65 applicants waiting for housing approval. She says move-ins could be expected as early as the next two months depending on if staff is hired. A hearing on the proposal is expected during this Thursday night’s commission meeting at 5 p.m.