NM Delegation Applauds HUD Grant to Help Alleviate Risk of COVID-19 Among Homeless Population
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $15,455,067 to the state of New Mexico and the City of Albuquerque to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in communities with at-risk individuals and families who are homeless or receiving homelessness assistance. The funds are part of the $4 billion in grant funding for emergency housing solutions grants from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that the entire New Mexico delegation voted to pass in March.
Homeless individuals continue to be one of the most at-risk groups for transmission of the coronavirus. Across the state of New Mexico, HUD has recorded an estimated 3,241 New Mexicans experiencing homelessness. Albuquerque had one of the largest growth rates of homelessness, with a 15% increase in the city during the past year. The state previously received $16,776,942 in funding in three HUD programs in April for housing authorities across the state.
“The health and safety of all New Mexicans is my top priority in Congress—and economic resources are an essential part of New Mexico’s public health effort to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I fought to include strong provisions to protect vulnerable communities in Congress’s response to this unprecedented public health crisis. As we urge New Mexicans to stay home to slow the spread of this virus and save lives, I will continue the fight to secure the resources that communities across the state need to make sure they can respond appropriately and safely.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated threats posed to at-risk individuals and families that are either homeless, or facing homelessness,” said Heinrich. “As New Mexico continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that we prioritize the health and safety of one of our most vulnerable populations and work tirelessly to provide shelter and assistance for everyone. I will continue fighting for a science-based approach to the current public health crisis and will do everything in my power to ensure that every New Mexican has shelter to weather this storm.”
“New Mexicans have been practicing social distancing to protect themselves and their loved ones from the threat of COVID-19. For those experiencing housing insecurity, social distancing can be near impossible, and they are at higher risk of contracting this terrible disease. These critical funds will allow us to better safeguard the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us,” said Luján.
“Shelter is a necessity even when we’re not in a pandemic, but the cost of housing and the barriers to find a place to live put many New Mexicans without home and at even greater risk of contracting coronavirus. When I struggled to afford rent, I was lucky enough to rely on friends and family to help, but not everyone has that safety net. This federal HUD funding will help expand housing assistance programs so that those struggling with homelessness have the ability to social distance, wash their hands regularly, stay heathy, and find a home,” said Haaland.
“As we work through the uncertainty of COVID-19 together, it’s essential we ensure those experiencing homelessness and those at risk of losing their housing have the resources they need to stay healthy and safe. Ensuring every New Mexican has access to adequate, affordable housing is a key part of fighting the spread of the virus, and I am dedicated to securing the funding our communities need to make that happen,” said Torres Small.
The Emergency Solutions Grant program funds will be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic among individuals and families who are homeless or receiving homeless assistance. The funds will also support additional homeless assistance and homelessness prevention activities to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. The HUD grant program uses a formula targeted toward communities with high proportions of homeless – both sheltered and unsheltered – and those at the most risk for homelessness.
A breakdown of the grants is below:
- State of New Mexico, $8,795,819
- City of Albuquerque, $6,659,248