Sunday Opinion

Gateway Shelter Propaganda Flops

A homeless woman rests near Iron and Third NW in Downtown Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/ABQJournal, January 22, 2021)

It’s never a good look when the government has to deploy its own six-figure bureaucrats to defend policies the public abhors.  

CABQ Family and Community Services Director Carol Pierce penned an op-ed Sunday in The Albuquerque Journal, “Gateway won’t be ‘giant emergency shelter’” that knocked down opposition about as gracefully as a Kamala Harris defends the Biden Administration’s border policies.

Referring to the homeless as “unhoused neighbors,” she attempts to dispell the myths around the city’s $15 million purchase of the Gibson Medical Center. 

  1. “The 572,000 square feet facility,” Pierce writes, “will not be transformed into a giant emergency shelter with 500 beds.” Rather, it will serve as a “health hub” to provide “health resources.”
  2. The city hasn’t “abandoned the dispersed shelter model in favor of a single, large shelter.” Rather, GMC will exist in addition to the dispersed shelter model. For $15 million and another $5 million in operating costs, it’s the best of both worlds.
  3. “Medical respite” for the “unhoused,” Pierce says, “isn’t the same as shelter.” Rather, it’s a taxpayer-funded middle-point for the homeless to stay after getting taxpayer-funded surgery but before moving to a taxpayer-funded shelter.
  4. Point №4 seems to be a straw man argument, because Pierce doesn’t say what misconception she’s debunking. She merely says, “The city will work with community nonprofit organizations, as we already do, to operate the shelter…” OOPS. I guess it’s a shelter after all.
  5. Fifth and finally, “The Gateway Center is not a replacement for affordable housing, supportive housing or other community resources. Housing and support options are critical to helping those who come to the facility to transition into housing.”

“We know this Gateway Center won’t solve the issue of homelessness in Albuquerque,” Pierce writes, “and this is not the end of the road — it’s another step that will expand the system of care for our unhoused neighbors.” 

CABQ Family and Community Services Director Carol Pierce’s Sunday op-ed in The Albuquerque Journal

It’s one of many steps, in fact, all paid for by taxes. 

  • $29.6 million in social services providing shelter, behavioral health, rental assistance, and case management. 
  • Annual “supportive housing” investments “increased by 44% since FY18.
  • More housing will be funded with $11 million in the Workforce Housing Trust Fund
  • $5.4 million will be spent this year on affordable housing. 
  • $21.6 million has been invested in emergency rental assistance.
  • $4 million toward operations and $3.5 million toward facility maintenance and “trauma-informed renovations.”

That’s quite a bill — one that increases every year and yet, oddly, only seems to attract more and more homeless. “Build it and they will come” appears to apply to more than baseball.

One has to wonder how quickly our “unhoused neighbors” would get clean, get a job, and get housed if they didn’t have do-gooder bureaucrats pillaging taxpayers to provide food, shelter, and medical care with no strings attached.

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