Rep. Allison sponsors bill to fund homelessness study in San Juan County

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Volunteer Beronica Barber serves coffee to Cecil Billie and Marlene Cloud during an event to feed the homeless at the Shiprock Events Center.

FARMINGTON — Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Fruitland, has sponsored a bill that would provide San Juan College with $100,000 to study homelessness in San Juan County.

The House Local Government, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs committee gave the bill a unanimous do pass recommendation on Feb. 4. The meeting can be viewed on nmlegis.gov.

During the committee meeting, Allison said he saw a similar bill that could provide funding to the University of New Mexico for a homelessness study, but he felt that the funding in that bill was only adequate for Albuquerque.

State Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Fruitland, is seen during a meeting in March at Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock.

“The rural challenges are not always identical or even close to some of the challenges of the urban communities,” he said.

Allison spoke to Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, D-Rehoboth, about the bill and she signed on to sponsor it with him.

Rep. Marian Matthews, D-Albuquerque, said the other bill may be more focused on housing and will be conducted by the architecture department at UNM.

“I think that what Rep. Allison is talking about is totally a different kind of study,” Matthews said.

Adrienne Forgette, the vice president for learning at San Juan College, said there is a homelessness problem in San Juan County and there are not good estimates of how many people are homeless.

“We know that we have students who are homeless,” she said, adding that some students sleep in their cars.

An organization providing support and structure to men recently released from correctional facilities is leasing space for its transitional living program at the People Assisting the Homeless campus at 520 Hydro Plant Road in Farmington.

She said resources for helping homeless people are stretched. For example, People Assisting the Homeless has 36 emergency beds, which are often full.

“I do feel that this will help us as a community to better serve the full community and especially those individuals who have the most need," she said. 

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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Beth Loeb, left, and PATH Board President Misty Hensley-Munoz, right, lay down cardboard to sleep on during the "A Night of No Shelter" event in the San Juan Plaza parking lot in Farmington. The event was to raise awareness and funds to benefit the local homeless shelter