Description of Homelessness in New Mexico
People who experience homelessness in New Mexico include families with children, people who are working at low-wage jobs, people suffering from mental illness, those with substance abuse problems, migrant workers, runaway or throwaway teens, victims of domestic violence and veterans. In other words, people who experience homelessness are a diverse group of people with a variety of factors contributing to their homelessness.
Based on the Coalition’s 2005 homeless count, we estimate that there are at least 17,000 people who experience homelessness in New Mexico over the course of a year.
Homelessness is caused by poverty and a lack of affordable housing. Homelessness has grown dramatically since the 1970’s due primarily to the steady decrease in public benefits for people living in poverty including welfare payments and public housing. In part because of the decrease in spending for public housing, there has been a steady decline in affordable housing. According to the National Coalition to End Homelessness, between 1970 and 1995, the gap between the number of low-income renters and the amount of affordable housing units in the U.S. went from almost no gap to a shortage of 4.4 million affordable housing units.
Photo courtesy Travis Hanson-Pollock
Homelessness in New Mexico is different in some ways from homelessness in other parts of the United States. One difference is that in urban areas homeless people who are not in shelters sleep in cars, abandoned buildings, and empty lots. In New Mexico homeless people use all of these places but they also camp out in the wide open spaces. This use of open space means that homeless people are somewhat less visible in New Mexico than in a more urban state. In Southern New Mexico many of the homeless are immigrants and migrant workers. In northwestern New Mexico known as Indian Country, many of the homeless are Native Americans.
The National Coalition to End Homelessness has a number of well researched fact sheets; please click on the “links” tab above for links to these fact sheets. We also have provided links to other New Mexico and national organizations that may be of interest.
Follow this link to a report that brings together and summarizes some of the available data on homelessness and affordable housing needs in New Mexico. The report divides the relevant documents into three distinct categories: 1) Reports 2) Plans 3) Charts & other data. Each category is also grouped into distinct geographical areas: 1) Albuquerque 2) Santa Fe and 3) Statewide. The report also includes some recommendations for future research and planning. To read the complete versions of each of the summarized documents, follow the tabs listed above.