Below is a guest commentary written by Judy Young proposing an alternative to the Tiny Home Project.
Judy Young is a native of New Mexico and a resident of Albuquerque.
The Tiny Homes project is a joint effort by the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to develop and construct a “village” or campus of 35 “tiny homes”.
The Tiny Homes will be one room structures measuring 116 square feet, with electricity only, and the village will have 25 to 35 homes in a gated community design.
Judy Young is a longtime resident of Albuquerque and was born in Gallup, New Mexico.
She is a retired educator from Texas, and returned to New Mexico to assist her parents in their last years.
When living in Texas, she helped developed the first prison rehabilitation program in Texas which was The South Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility in Houston.
Judy Young has a master’s degree in Community Program Development from Columbia University in New York City.
While at Columbia, she worked on 3 very successful strategic projects that were a part of cleaning up NYC.
After securing her master’s degree from Columbia, she moved to Albuquerque.
Soon after arriving in Albuquerque, she wrote the $92 million grant that started the Cancer Research and Treatment Center.
She has been involved with community affairs for some time and she worked with Phil Chacon and Judy Anderson to fiercely lobby for the first publicly funded domestic violence program in the country.
This domestic violence program was considered the flagship for the rest of the country to follow suit of revamping laws and provide protection for victims of domestic violence.
Judy Young worked with New Mexico’s first promoter, Frank Crosby, who was widely known for promoting the Unser’s of New Mexico racing fame and representing businesses in the first Home and Sports Shows in New Mexico.
JUDY YOUNG GUEST EDITORIAL COMMENTARY:
The majority of homeless and mentally ill individuals are being left on our streets to fend for themselves or in clusters, for food, money, hygiene necessities, and their personal safety.
While the well-intentioned Mayor and City Councilors are trying to act on the problem by buying a lot here and there and providing funds to select nonprofits, the problem only gets worse because the services that are offered become magnets for more homeless and mentally ill.
THE SOLUTION: THE CAMPUS MODEL
A CAMPUS MODEL, outside the city where larger tracts of land at cheaper prices can be purchased. To include:
• temporary housing, (durable tents at first, with room for dormitories or small apartments later with accommodations for families and service animals)
• 24-hour clinic for physical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and police drop-off,
• education and job training, and
• community center.
Non-profit, educational and other providers would be able to work together to deliver comprehensive care services at the new facility.
If Albuquerque can build a model Science & Technology Park that contributes to the local economy, then surely the same government leaders can build a model Human Services Park that will contribute to the economy over time and NOT drain our economy with misspent tax dollars.
Why is the CAMPUS MODEL so critical to implement?
The Campus Model effectively separates the truly local homeless population from the non-local transients.
Definition of truly homeless: local population that experiences a sudden crisis that results in such severe financial hardship that they require assistance. This population desires to better themselves and welcomes a hand up.
Definition of transients: a population that travels from city to city taking advantage of the local population by panhandling and committing crimes to feed their drug and/or alcohol addiction. This population welcomes a hand out, but has no desire to better themselves. This population can destroy a local community, like locusts devouring the crops, if they are not addressed and dealt with effectively.
Transients know which localities have a plan in place, and which localities do not. Transients from around the United States now know that Albuquerque does NOT have a plan in place, and therefore Albuquerque has become the ideal attraction for transients from around the country. Currently, they can successfully blend in with the local homeless and not be bothered by law enforcement.
Other groups of the unlawful need to be effectively dealt with by law enforcement. These groups include gangs that traffic in drugs, theft, and prostitution. If one group is given a pass by law enforcement, it sends a message to all the other subcategories to inhabit the land of enchantment where unlawful behavior is allowed to flourish in a permissive status quo.
The “broken window effect” research clearly establishes that when the visual of a broken window exists, criminals read that signal as, “This neighborhood is not paying attention so this neighborhood is an easy target to victimize.”
A Tiny Home Village will have a “broken window effect” because it will advertise, “A shannie town of substandard buildings of tuff sheds.” No one in Albuquerque could boast of this advertisement that flashes in neon lights of shame rather than pride for the Historic Route 66.
Any market analysis must first address the target population. The target population for all of the current piece meal projects is local homeless. To miss the target population is to miss the mark with devastating results.
The Campus Model Benefits:
• individuals who choose to work, pay taxes, and participate in a stable civic life,
• cleans up our parks and recreational sites built for family recreational purposes
• businesses that support the local economy (where now they are being forced to close or move away due the adverse economic impact from the homeless and transients,
• public safety where laws against public intoxication, drug or alcohol, and crime can be enforced.
The “Campus Model” seeks to rehabilitate local homeless and prepare them to reintegrate into society with the dignity of being able to support themselves through employment. It would help enable our police and other agencies to get the homeless the care they need and the real criminals off the streets.
If a Tiny Home Village is placed in any location of Albuquerque proper, it will visually represent a white flag of surrender to transients around the country that Albuquerque has conceded to their desires.
In 2006, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, declared that Portland would become known as the city of refuge for all addicts because the city was committed to treat any addict from around the country who wanted treatment. After two years, Portland quickly learned the error of such an invitation. Portland was on the verge of total social and financial collapse when this dictate from the major was reversed.
Houston has developed the most effective follow-up integrative program.
San Antonio CAMPUS MODEL + Houston INTEGRATIVE
MODEL = SUCCESSFUL ALBUQUERQUE SOLUTION
Albuquerque is at critical crossroads. Research reports grade Albuquerque as a “D” while its surrounding states are “A’s and B’s”. Compton was a beautiful bedroom community of Los Angeles until the powers that be failed to keep crime and gangs out. It is now currently known as the gang capital of California. Currently Albuquerque is on the path headed directly to mimic Compton, California.
Albuquerque can either choose short term pain for long term gain by carefully building a comprehensive CAMPUS + INTEGRATIVE program for the real homeless.
Or Albuquerque can choose short gain for long term pain by continuing to plug the holes of the cracked dam with piece meal programs that offer no real long-term solution.
CONCLUSION COMMENT FROM ONE ALBUQUERQUE RESIDENT
“We cannot keep throwing bundles of dollars and adding piece-meal facilities downtown or in our residential neighborhoods and hope to make a dent in the homeless problem downtown and in south Albuquerque. We have one of the largest collections of non-profit organizations dedicated to the homeless in the nation, yet they are not working together. The city, county, and state can buy more land and provide more services to the homeless in outlying areas for less than the cost of vacant lots downtown. I encourage this. PLEASE don’t ruin downtown or Rt. 66 and the potential it has to attract tourists. No one wants to visit any of these areas when all they face are homeless populations and crime.”