I’m always happy to be headed to work, but I get extra excited on Tuesday mornings because one of the first things I do upon arrival at the office is to go to the Street Connect meeting. Once a week I have the privilege to sit around a table with hopeful, dedicated, visionaries who are members of the Albuquerque Police Department, partner agencies, city representatives, and our street outreach team. This team of professionals are members of an incredible squad known as ABQ Street Connect.
ABQ Street Connect helps people experiencing homelessness who are high utilizers of emergency systems and provides intense individualized housing focused navigation. This specific housing program is designed for people the traditional outreach methods and housing programs have failed. Essentially, this program deals with people in the downtown Albuquerque area nobody knows how to or wants to handle. The cases are not simple or easy. This team deals with difficult situations beyond belief because of issues including but not limited to drug addiction, mental illness, alcohol abuse, and trauma, as well as systemic problems like healthcare, housing services, and social security offices.
The daily challenges our clients face are complex. Sometimes clients can’t handle being housed and end up back on the streets. Sometimes our clients are alcoholics. Sometimes our clients need medical attention and the hospitals refuse to help. Sometimes our clients should be collecting social security but need help getting it. Sometimes our clients get arrested while we are in the process of getting housing for them. Sometimes our clients are veterans and the VA is not helping them. Sometimes our clients go missing. Sometimes our clients are drug users. Sometimes our clients get frustrated, angry, and violent in the office. Sometimes our clients have severe mental health issues. Those are just a few of the situations clients deal with and usually, none of the issues are mutually exclusive. If it’s a situation our clients are facing it’s a situation our ABQ Street Connect team is facing.
One reason I enjoy attending ABQ Street Connect meetings is that the team never gives up and highly celebrates redefined successes. There are very few unfortunate situations and challenges this team hasn’t come across and yet they are still motivated, hopeful, and dedicated.
I’ve had the opportunity to see clients improve after being involved with ABQ Street Connect and it’s incredible. One particular client faced countless struggles and on a bad day when I would chat with him would be in a terrible place and on a good day had a goofy smile, kind heart and sense of humor. Unfortunately, he recently passed away. This individual was someone I frequently interacted with while at the office and have since found myself expecting and hoping to see him around the office. He died in permanent housing and the last time I saw him he was joking around with me. His experience with Heading Home is a prime example and testament of the difference ABQ Street Connect makes in the lives of individuals who tend to get overlooked by the community because of negative stigmas.
ABQ Street Connect is a team of visionary’s achieving results. People having witnessed first-hand problems with health care and housing options looking for better long term solutions to big problems. The vision for ABQ is to have housing and healthcare suitable for our Street Connect clients. I consistently find inspiration from this team because they are so persistent, positive and aren’t afraid to think outside the box. To see a recent report from ABQ Street Connect please click here.