Groundbreaking for Homeless Veterans Campus in Southeast Albuquerque Met with Protest

ALBUQUERQ, NM (KRQE) — Groundbreaking took place Wednesday for a complex that will house and treat homeless veterans in Albuquerque. However, the idea is met with some resistance from the neighboring district.

The muddy playground near I-25 and Gibson may not look like much right now, but it will be a place where homeless veterans can get back on their feet. While Kirtland Community Association said they agree with the idea, they don’t want the facility in their area.

Veterans Integration Centers (VIC) hopes to turn the area into a vibrant community by May 2024.

VIC CEO Brock Wolf explained that they want to install temporary housing to help veterans struggling with PTSD, substance abuse or life issues. The process begins with temporary housing, with the hope of eventually relocating the veterans to permanent residence.

The three-acre campus near I-25 and Gibson will include a 42-bed shelter and 33 low-income housing units for veterans. There will be a walking path, a food pantry, a donation center and a gym, and on-site mental health and addiction treatment.

“Last March we received a $3.2 million grant from the VA and then just this year the county gave $3.5 million and then we tried to work with HUD across the city to secure only over a million dollars in funding for buying land here,” Wolf said.

While the idea is to create a community of veterans there, the neighboring community that already exists is not involved.

Kirtland Community Association vice president Leslie Horne said they tried to stop the project, but no one listened.

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“We fully support the Veterans Integration Centers project. We support our veterinarians; this is a wonderful project. We do not support its location here in our area, Horn said. “We feel like we had no say in this process from the very beginning. Homelessness is everywhere. They don’t put it in the country club area. They don’t place it on the Northeast Heights. They don’t place it in Tanoan, one of those more affluent areas. They are placing it in areas that have historically been low-income.”

“It’s also nearing completion for projects like Hawthorne – a homeless shelter – where we’ve had an influx of crime. The city did not let us know that this project would be here. We also had an SOS that was proposed for one of the churches in our community and they tried to post it here without our participation and say, and unfortunately this is the third item or the third draft that was proposed. here is that even though it has great services helping homeless veterans and their families, unfortunately it doesn’t benefit our community and our neighborhood and we weren’t asked, “How do you feel about being in your area?” Horn said.

Horn claimed they weren’t fully aware of the process either: “We had a meet and greet with the Veterans Integration Center and then we had another meeting with them where they proposed a ‘good neighbor agreement’, something similar to what they offer to the community where the gateway center is located. However, the meetings that matter in this process, our organized meeting, we have not yet had, and this meeting has been postponed, and we feel that this was an attempt by the city to help the Veterans Integration Center to move their project forward without us. really knowing about it.”

However, the site is intended for mixed use, which means that such a campus is allowed here.

“When you find out that it will be a protected facility, a closed area, we will have all the security cameras. We will be great neighbors,” Wolf said. had.”

The Kirtland Community Association said they have a meeting scheduled with the VIC in April. Wolf said they hope to have a grand opening on July 4, 2024.

The entire project is estimated at $17 million. Wolf said they had already raised $9.5 million.

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