This story is a staff report from The Paper.

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At its peak, Albuquerque’s Lovelace Hospital provided critical services to the City’s residents experiencing acute medical and mental health crises – at times treating up to 1,000 people per day. Since acquiring the medical complex last year, the City has been moving full speed ahead to once again open its doors to large numbers of Albuquerque’s most vulnerable residents in need. 

The Gateway Center is set to complete construction on new overnight beds, a First Responder Drop-Off, and Engagement Center by late Winter, with 100 total beds for overnight use, medical sobering and medical respite operating by July 2023.  This will also close the most problematic and long-standing gap, a 24/7 no-barrier service center alternative to the emergency room or county jail, in Central New Mexico’s spectrum of services for the unsheltered. 

“What we are doing at Gateway, in combination with our investments in affordable housing, are filling critical service gaps to impact homelessness in Albuquerque from every angle,” said Director Carol Pierce.

80% of the 500,000 square-foot facility is already in use by tenants or under construction for new support services. The current tenants, including the Albuquerque Community Safety Department, Violence Intervention Program, and Trauma Recovery Center, already serve 300 people every day who need behavioral health care, addiction recovery, job training, specialized medical care, and connection to services via outreach. 

When the full build-out is complete by 2025, the new Gateway will join the existing providers, increasing the capacity of the building to serve approximately 1,000 people a day, an expectation comparable to other large healthcare providers in Albuquerque. At Gateway there will be:

  • Overnight capacity for 200 men, women, and families.
  • A Medical Sobering center with 40 beds where people can stay up to 23 hours.
  • A Medical Respite unit with 40 beds serving clients for 30-60 day stays.
  • The First Responder Drop-Off will connect incoming people to needed services.
  • An Engagement Center where an estimated 200 people a day can meet with case managers, receive haircuts and identification, and search for housing and jobs. 

“We’ve had a critical need for these services for decades. The First Responder Drop Off, medical sobering, and medical respite will be brand-new services in the city. Our approach to homelessness requires that we identify these gaps and take action to close them” said Mayor Tim Keller.

City leaders hope that the Gateway will be an anchor in the City’s dispersed service model, where housed and unhoused community members alike are able to seek the services they need.