On March 21, the New Mexico legislature concluded its session, passing a budget that included a $650,000 expansion for state-funded permanent supportive housing, as well as $50,000 in new funding that may be used for rapid re-housing programs or match for federal Continuum of Care grants. The augmented commitment to housing programs resulted from a robust advocacy campaign led by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness (NMCEH), an NLIHC State Coalition Partner. New Mexico’s 2016 budget bill and its new allocations for housing programs now await the signature of Governor Susana Martinez.
The $650,000 increase for permanent supportive housing will be dedicated to the Linkages program within New Mexico’s Department of Human Services. Linkages is a housing voucher program for homeless or precariously housed people with severe mental illness. Linkages covers rent, security deposits, utility deposits, application fees, and background checks. Program participants are allowed to remain in the program until they become self-sufficient or obtain other subsidized housing. NMCEH now will work with the Department of Human Services’ Housing Leadership Group to ensure that the new funding reaches people with the most serious needs.
To build support for their successful budget initiative, NMCEH mobilized service providers and community organizations throughout the state. On February 4, NMCEH convened more than 80 advocates from around the state for their Lobby Day at the State Capitol in Santa Fe. NMCEH updated advocates on key legislation, preparing the group for lobby meetings with their legislators. NMCEH also organized their networks throughout the budget process, leading to numerous calls and emails to legislators about the importance of permanent supportive housing.
“This budget victory would not have happened without the work of so many advocates contacting their legislators and sharing insights on why housing matters,” said Hank Hughes, NMCEH Executive Director. “We are also fortunate to have some strong champions for our issues in the Legislature, especially Representative Tomás Salazar who led the effort for increased funding in the House Appropriations Committee.”
NMCEH will honor Representative Salazar (D-Las Vegas) with the Elected Official of the Year Award at their Housing for All Conference on April 9. Mr. Salazar has been a champion on legislative efforts to end homelessness.
For more information, contact Hank Hughes, Executive Director, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, at firstname.lastname@example.org