Ending Homelessness in New Mexico Considered Feasible with State Resources

The resources needed to end homelessness in New Mexico are within the state’s financial means according to a report released on January 13 by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness (NMCEH), an NLIHC state partner. The analysis proposes bringing two proven programs to scale, rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing, to house everyone currently experiencing homelessness and to create a system that makes homelessness brief and nonrecurring.

Each year, between 15,000 and 20,000 people experience homelessness in New Mexico, with an estimated 6,548 people not receiving adequate assistance to obtain a stable home. NMCEH estimates the cost to adequately assist all 6,548 people to be approximately $61.3 million per year for at least two years. This would involve doubling current efforts relating to permanent supportive housing and tripling those relating to rapid rehousing. A reduction in need for these services is expected as the backlog is reduced. An annual evaluation will be needed to determine the yearly cost once this initial need is met.

In addition, a one-time investment of $72 million is needed to build onsite permanent supportive housing for the estimated 300 people needing an increased level of support that cannot be met with scattered-site housing. The report states $48 million of this would come from state capital outlay funds and $24 million from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and the national Housing Trust Fund. Because New Mexico’s budget exceeds $7.5 billion, NMCEH suggests the proposal to address homelessness is reasonable, especially given evidence of the cost-effectiveness of the proposed solutions.

A two-year startup period is recommended to allow existing programs time to increase their capacity and launch additional programs. The first year could use half of the proposed cost as these programs build to scale, while the full amount is used in the second year and then perhaps up to a similar amount if necessary in the third year. After the third year, a reduction in need for these services is expected as the backlog is reduced, especially in rapid rehousing programs. The report proposes using the state’s existing coordinated entry system to ensure efficient utilization of housing resources. One potential barrier to this expansion is the lack of existing affordable rental homes. The report explores some potential creative strategies to overcome this.

“It is time to start investing in housing and services for homeless people on the scale needed to fix the problem. We call on the state Legislature and the Administration to look at our plan and fund the evidence-based solutions that work,” stated Hank Hughes, NMCEH Executive Director.

The full report is at: https://bit.ly/3ab75qN

More information about the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness is at: www.nmceh.org