County drops plans for women’s recovery home

The Bernalillo County Commission recently voted to sell the house at 305 Lagunitas Lane SW that was at the heart of a dispute between neighborhood groups and planners of a facility for homeless women. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After getting pushback from future neighbors, Bernalillo County last month officially abandoned plans to run a recovery home for homeless women.

The county had been granted a facility on Lagunitas SW in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico. The plan was to use it to provide a recovery home for homeless women.

But there was so much opposition from neighborhood groups that the building sat vacant for years, said Larry Gallegos, a spokesman for the county.

Eventually, in February 2017, the county sold the building for $163,500.

But the county never got approval from the State Board of Finance, so last month the County Commission unanimously voted to approve the sale of the building and get approval from the state finance board.

Proceeds from the sale of the building are going to the county’s Metropolitan Detention Center Supportive Housing program, which provides housing vouchers for certain inmates who leave MDC.

“The momentum was there, but it didn’t go through because of the community being against it,” Gallegos said.

Jennifer Metzler, the executive director for Healthcare for the Homeless in Albuquerque, said a voucher program can potentially even better serve a vulnerable population, compared with a brick and mortar facility.

“It was long thought that was not effective, but we’ve actually learned differently across the country. … We have definitely shifted to the housing-first concept. Giving people vouchers gives people choices about where to live,” she said.

“Generally, for people who are housing unstable, we’ve learned that you don’t need to go to a place and participate in a program that your residential stability is contingent on. You can be out in the community.”

The county received permission from HUD to sell the building, according to county documents.

Expect a Miracle Ministries is using the facility as a treatment center, but the group is planning to move to a larger facility in Rio Rancho.

The building is selling for about $450,000, according to a website that lists homes for sale. The 5,860-square-foot facility has more than 10 bedrooms, three large shower stalls, a large dining hall and two large living areas.

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