RSS Feed


Bernalillo County-On Tuesday night, the Bernalillo County Commission voted unanimously to approve a new supportive housing initiative targeted at homeless individuals involved in the criminal justice system. The commission approved $1.1 million to fund safe housing and supportive services for 75 individuals over the next year.

“This is a significant step in implementing a successful, cost effective strategy for helping people with mental illness, who otherwise would likely continue to cycle through our jail and criminal justice system”, says Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins. “Providing appropriate housing and treatment makes our community safer and has been shown to save money in the long run.”

The Bernalillo County Public Safety Division developed the plan in collaboration with the City of Albuquerque and local organizations that serve individuals suffering from mental illness, addiction, and homelessness.

Numerous studies and task forces, most recently the Bazelon Study completed in July of 2012, have identified supportive housing as a critical step in addressing homelessness and mental illness in Bernalillo County, particularly for the population that cycles in and out of incarceration.

Over fifty percent (50%) of the inmate population at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center receives psychiatric services within the jail. Individuals with mental illnesses are frequently taken to MDC because of the lack of behavioral health services within the community. The existing situation consumes millions of tax dollars, clogs courts systems, and burdens emergency services such as law enforcement, hospitals and other community resources.

The program would serve at risk individuals who are homeless or considered precariously housed with a mental health disorder, substance addiction, co- occurring disorders, cognitive impairment, are medically vulnerable or are otherwise in need of intensive supportive services and who are involved in any phase of the criminal justice system (pretrial, sentenced or probationers) and would be supervised by the appropriate criminal justice supervision agency. Program providers will be expected to provide services inside the MDC, complete intake assessments while the client is in custody, and participate in discharge planning and provide a seamless transition into community services.

The supportive housing program in Bernalillo County is expected to reduce the MDC inmate population by providing an alternative to incarceration and reducing rates of recidivism.

Initial funding for the Bernalillo County Supportive Housing Program of up to three-hundred thousand dollars ($300,000) will be provided from the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center operating budget for FY15.