Background: Why create a temporary winter housing facility?

A ‘Tent City’ Outside of Las Cruces Homeless Shelter Faces Closure

ABC-7 Reporter Whitney Burbank

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A “tent city” outside of Las Cruces homeless shelter, Community of Hope, faces closure in December. ABC7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom had cameras rolling Monday afternoon while the Community of Hope presented its proposal to create a temporary winter housing facility to City Council.

The Executive Director of the Community of Hope, Pamela Angell said she saw more than 20 people around the encampment on Sunday night. She described the “tent city” to City Council as a mix of camping tents, cars and “fortresses.”

Angell proposed that they replace make-shift encampment with military-grade tents. “(We should) construct a military community of military canvas Alaska Structure tents,” suggested Angell.

Angell said she’s also hoping to install a security and check in system made up volunteers in the proposed encampment. According to Angell in order to keep the area, “safe drug free alchohol free strict rules registration.”

She told ABC7 the cost to keep up temporary housing could come to less than $2,700 a month and could keep homeless people like James VonBehren warm and safe through the winter.

Having spent 19 years on the street, VonBehren stressed the importance of safety in the encampment. “At least now we have a safe environment at night time,” said Von Beheren “That’s the important part, so we don’t have to be worried about being attacked in our sleep.”

Angell said the Community of Hope saw 2,020 people, who accounted for 21,000 visits a day, come into the shelter in 2010.

“This could get really frightening with our economy in the next year. A lot of people are tasting homlessness, said Angell.

While no firm solution was reached on Monday, Mayor Miyagashima voiced his support for the project during the City Council meeting.

The Community of Hope will continue to host meetings every Wednesday at 10 a.m. to discuss a temporary housing solution.