Relocation may help those struggling with addiction get help

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FARMINGTON — Farmington’s winter wet shelter is scheduled to open Nov. 1, but operations will be moved to a new location this year.

The city of Farmington hopes to consolidate services for inebriated individuals to a single campus in the southwest portion of town.

On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved locating The Roof at the same campus that houses the Sobering Center, the Joint Intervention Program and the Totah Behavioral Health Authority.

City Manager Rob Mayes emphasized that the city is working to meet the needs of a street inebriate community that is not necessarily homeless. Street inebriates, as defined by the Navajo Nation Human Rights Coalition, live primarily in areas outside of Farmington and come to the city seeking alcohol, Mayes said.

The Roof offers people a place to get out of the cold weather while sobering up.

Officials voiced hope that the relocation could help people struggling with addiction receive help through the adjoining Joint Intervention Program or Totah Behavioral Health Authority.

In addition, the city hopes the relocation will ensure people who need to receive medical monitoring because of their level of intoxication are housed at the Sobering Center rather than The Roof. It will also allow the Sobering Center to discharge clients to The Roof.

The Sobering Center can only house people for 11 hours, which means clients who arrived in the afternoon sometimes had to be discharged during the night.

More: Farmington considers relocating The Roof

The Roof does not have a time limit for clients, but it is only open at night. Clients must leave The Roof in the morning.

The Roof was created in the early 2000s to reduce the number of exposure-related deaths during the winter. It has previously been operated out of a building downtown.

Gordon Glass, who attended the meeting to represent the First Presbyterian Church’s mission committee, asked about how intoxicated people will safely reach the Ojo Court location from other parts of the city, such as downtown.

“Under this proposal, you would be asking all street inebriates to either secure transportation or to move along (N.M. Highway 371) to the facility there, and should that be a concern?” Glass asked.

Mayor Nate Duckett said the majority of clients will be transported by van, but a safe path will be created for the others.

More: Farmington's winter shelter keeps homeless warm

Mayes said the path will be lit.

“It will actually create a much safer situation than we have now,” Mayes said.

Downtown business owner Morey Havens praised the city’s decision to move The Roof’s operations to Ojo Court, which may reduce the number of intoxicated people in the downtown area.

“We have experienced a lot of inebriate population coming in and out of (our) restaurant over the years,” Havens said. “It’s tough to deal with sometimes.”

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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