Heading Home and representatives from Albuquerque’s Family and Community Services department gave Mayor Tim Keller a tour of the ABQ Winter Shelter on Valentine’s Day. This is Heading Home’s inaugural year operating the shelter which is open from mid-November through mid-March.

ABQ Winter Shelter managers Carlos Sanchez and Courtney Thompson provided the mayor with insight on the many successes of this year’s operation and guided the group through the women’s, men’s and family areas. One of this year’s successes has been intake assessments for all residents, which are then entered into a coordinated database that expedites support services that residents may be eligible for.

The shelter can hold over 400 residents and typically sees up to 350 people a night including numerous families with children. Families are provided private rooms and children have access to books, toys and games. The children at the facility left Mayor Keller a Valentine’s card that thanked him, the city and Heading Home for the program.

The shelter is located in the old county jail on Albuquerque’s West Side, just west of the volcanoes. The interior of the building has been softened by artwork and murals provided through the generous work of the Girl Scouts and volunteers from Sandia National Laboratories. The exterior also has decorative ribbons in the shape of hearts and a “Welcome” sign, but also bears the hallmarks of its past with razor wire running along the top of the surrounding fence. At the end of the tour Mayor Keller was brainstorming with his staff on ways to get the razor wire removed from the city-owned property.

Heading Home is currently exploring ideas on how to transition the ABQ Winter Shelter into a year-round operation with the possibility of moving the location into the city.