Q: Why do Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque need a Tiny Home Village?
While the county and city offer a variety of outstanding services to people living on the street, individuals are still “falling between the cracks,” and services need to be provided on a case-by-case basis. This project will help fill gaps in the existing services while also providing an alternative to current interventions that are not able to adequately address each individual’s specific needs.
Q: How did the idea for a village develop?
A working group of concerned community members with wide-ranging expertise laid the foundation for this project by meeting regularly in 2016. Initially, this working group envisioned developing a sanctioned tent city, but after much deliberation decided to pursue a tiny home village. Commissioner Debbie O’Malley moved the project forward by earmarking $2 million for construction under the 2016 Public Housing General Obligation Bond Ballot Measure. After passing the measure unanimously in January 2017, the county has facilitated a public planning process for collecting community input and bringing the village to fruition.
Q: Why is an alternative to traditional affordable housing necessary?
All around the country, communities are finding it more and more difficult to secure funding to increase affordable housing. While adding to a community’s permanent supportive housing is ideal, much depends on local officials being able to secure larger sums of money and administer larger numbers of housing vouchers. To exacerbate the issue, revenue generated from housing vouchers is usually collected by individual landlords scattered throughout the region rather than being redistributed back to support the entire range of services and support for the homeless — a funding mechanism which the Village is hoping to implement.
Considering the fact that many recently-housed individuals are unable to find employment and/or are able to reintegrate back into their community, it is evident that there needs to be a much more holistic approach to stabilizing these individuals and helping them become self-sustainable. The Tiny Home Village hopes to accomplish this by integrating services, employment, and housing all on a single site. Also, since the Tiny Home Village is using funds other than those provided by HUD (U.S. Housing and Urban Development), the Village will have more flexibility in selecting residents and operating than HUD-funded communities.
Q: Who will live in the Village and what are the criteria for becoming a resident?
Villagers will have to apply to live in the Tiny Home Village and agree to follow the rules. There will be no discrimination against veterans, couples co-habitating regardless of marital status, same-sex couples, transgendered people, documentation, ethnicity, religious and/or political affiliation, gender, or sexual orientation. At this time, only dogs will be allowed as pets. The Village will not accommodate minors.
All villagers will be living at or below the 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) level and will agree to pay no more than 30% of their income or a flat rate of $30 towards village maintenance. However, villagers will be able to take residence with no income at hand. All villagers will be required to work with a peer-specialist, case manager, and/or occupational therapist to formulate and follow a personal strengths-based plan. All villagers will participate in a 28-day trial residency period. The village is a self-governing model with oversight and support from the Albuquerque Indian Center, community stakeholders, providers and surrounding residents, with residents empowered to handle everyday resident and village needs. Click here to see the village organizational structure.
Q: How will the Village ensure the safety of its residents and the surrounding neighborhood?
The Village will be completely fenced and self-contained. In addition, it will have a three-tiered security plan. As mentioned above, there will be rules established (such as no drugs or alcohol on the premises) and residents will be required to follow those rules.
Q: How will Bernalillo County ensure that the Village is maintained?
As mentioned previously, the Village will be managed by a professional manager or management company. In addition, as appropriate given their physical condition, each resident will be given “chores” to perform that ensure the Village is maintained, such as picking up trash in common areas, pulling weeds etc. Residents will also form a governing council and work together to ensure the Village is maintained. In addition, as the owner, Bernalillo County is ultimately responsible for maintaining the property.
Q: What will the effect of the Village on surrounding property values?
It is difficult to be specific about property values because the Tiny Home Village is the first community of its kind in Albuquerque. We believe that solid architectural design and construction, proper operation and maintenance, and establishing and maintaining effective two-way communication as well as partnerships with the surrounding neighborhood should help ensure that property values are not negatively impacted by the Tiny Home Village.
Q: How are the voices of unhoused people being included in the planning and design for the Village?
The original working group invited a few unhoused and recently housed community members to attend meetings when the project was first being conceived. Since then, community advocates have reached out to the unhoused community to seek their input through conversations and street surveys. More recently, the county and city invited someone who had first-hand experience of living in a Tiny Home Village in Eugene, Oregon, to share her thoughts on developing a village. In March 2019, recently housed community members and neighborhood residents participated in a design charrette.
Q: What are the selection criteria for identifying the most suitable sites for locating the village?
Ever since the project was first conceived, the county and city have been intentional and consistent with their selection criteria for identifying suitable sites for the village. These criteria include:
- 3/8 of a mile or less from public transportation.
- Services accessible.
- Water, sewer, and electricity available.
- At least 1-3 acres (estimated 25-30 homes per acre).
Q: Did the county and city receive any outside assistance in developing the scope and plan for the village?
The City and County have been in close contact with Square One Villages, a non-profit based out of Eugene, Oregon, that has already established a transitional village, is currently developing a permanent village, and serves as an information clearinghouse for villages being developed around the country. One of the leading national experts in this type of housing, Andrew Heben, founded Square One Villages and recently visited Albuquerque to meet with community stakeholders to provide consultation and education.