My letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal received many mixed reactions in our community. While my intention was to get the community at large motivated to help, many took the opinion as a personal attack.
The mission of Heading Home is to make the experience of homelessness rare, short-lived, and non-recurring. I believe we have to focus on Housing First. If we can’t agree on that, we will have to agree to disagree. To clarify, in case we have different definitions, to me, Housing First means getting an individual into a safe, warm bed before trying to work on underlying obstacles such as mental illness or substance abuse. I believe very strongly that if a person doesn’t feel safe, they will not be able to focus on any other challenge. Research shows this as well. Once they are safe, we need to provide real support services and options to address issues they may experience.
Regardless of any data, I apologize for telling you what you should and shouldn’t do with your resources. That is none of my business. I’m looking at long-term solutions to get people housed. I believe a single night on the street is too many for anyone.
What I said in the letter about people being “severely uncomfortable” was too direct and came across as heartless. My choice of words was wrong. I don’t want people to suffer. I want them to seek or accept help and not experience any more nights on the street. This is why I’m in this business; because I genuinely care, and am passionate about working with the community to solve these issues.
I’ve served in human services for most of my adult life. I am dedicated to this cause, Heading Home, and this community. These comments were also never intended to be directed at street outreach and other agencies. Evidence suggests that healthy relationships of trust, built through trauma-informed care, make a significant difference. Relationships of trust are built through consistency of interaction and outreach.
I feel that I need to mention that this is my opinion, and does not represent the opinions of everyone here at Heading Home.
I don’t have all the answers. I believe we’ve opened the door for dialogue and now have an opportunity to find solutions that work for this community. I hope we can all come together to solve the issue and focus on the issue.
You can email your input to firstname.lastname@example.org, or text us at (505)588-6006.
CEO | Heading Home
[This article is in response to the op-ed “It takes a village to positively impact homelessness” originally published on January 19th, 2023. Read it here]