Monday, May 29, 2023

A Community Is Taking Shape At Albuquerque's Tiny Home Village

Tiny Home Village Takes A Different Approach In Addressing Albuquerque's Unhoused Population


Mayor Keller and City Councilor Pat Davis* were in attendance at Albuquerque's Tiny Home Village (THV) on Friday with a host of community members for a tour of the community. THV offers affordable housing and services to Albuquerque residents facing housing insecurity. The community offers living facilities, a common area that boasts an ample kitchen, and a host of services for residents of the village.

"The idea here is that community is central to the whole project," THV Resource Manager Ilse Biel said. Unlike traditional affordable housing projects, THV is focused on building a community for its residents that will continue to serve members even if a resident secures housing outside of the facility. The goal for the residents within the community is to achieve self-governance and to use that community as a support system as they transition to housing independence.

The community boasts 30 tiny homes and can host 40 residents. Each unit has a bed and ample room for clothes and personal belongings. The award-winning facility's focus on community building is immediately evident, as most amenities are located in communal areas. Biel noted that one of the primary goals of the program is to discourage isolation among residents. The individual small private spaces are designed to encourage residents to engage with the community.

The program also focuses on the sustainability of its residents and will not force anyone out. "We would allow people to stay and just have that stability and security until they're ready and they've got a space to move into." This differs from other housing programs whose predominant concern is on the graduation of their residents. Residents of THV are not on a time limit to secure housing.

Services offered to the community include access to occupational therapy, standby psychiatric nurses, and employment services. Biel commented that the program makes it a priority not to reduce services to "cookie-cutter" options for their residents, but rather they review each case and design a path that fits each individual's needs.

There are currently five residents living in the community. The current state of the housing market and Albuquerque's burgeoning unhoused population has many wondering why more residents have not moved in? Biel explained during the tour that the program's focus on incremental progress, which emphasizes slow but sustainable progress, is to ensure the sustainability of the community through decisions led by the community members. "Housing is just one part of the program. We're into community building because that will be more sustainable down the path for the people who are living here," Biel said.

For someone to be admitted into the program, they are interviewed by already established community members. After the interview, the community members will discuss which applicants will be the best fit for the community. To ensure that each decision is thoroughly discussed and analyzed, community members interview one applicant a week.

The Tiny Homes Community is run in a partnership with Bernalillo County and the Albuquerque Indian Center (AIC). The facility was built with funding from the county which also leases the land from AIC.

Biel expects more residents to move in as the community continues to establish itself.

Pat Davis is a city councilor and publisher of The Paper. He did not participate in the writing of this story.


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