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Community Steps Up To Help Unsheltered Neighbors In ABQ Survive The Cold Snap

Hannah Colton / KUNM
Khadijah Bottom stands amidst piles of winter clothes near her office in southeast Albuquerque.

The arrival of freezing temperatures and snow means sudden, extreme hardship for the hundreds of people living without shelter in Albuquerque. A group of friends and service providers saw the cold front coming and quickly organized an emergency winter gear drive over the weekend. 

On Sunday afternoon, the hallway near Khadijah Bottom's southeast Albuquerque office, where she runs the nonprofit Vizionz Sankofa, was lined with neat stacks of winter clothes.

"This area here is hats, scarves, socks, gloves," Bottom pointed out. "Oh! And we received a donation of 700 raincoats from [ABQ] Mutual Aid."

After recieving and sorting donations all day Sunday, Bottom and a small crew plan to distribute dozens of bags of clothing, tarps and food to people out in the cold this week.

Bottom says their effort was inspired by a friend’s Facebook post, warning of the dire conditions that people experiencing homelessness would face in the coming days. She says she called a couple other friends, including a representative from the International District Healthy Communities Coalition, and they made a plan. "This was Friday," she said, "so now today you see the results of that impulsiveness."

On Sunday, City of Albuquerque announced they were reopening their 450-bed Westside shelter, which had closed in the wake of nearly a hundred new COVID cases there earlier this month.

But even if folks living on the streets find out about the shelter reopening, they may not want to stay there, said Valerie Griego with the ABQ Faithworks Collaborative. Her network of churches sees hundreds of unhoused people each year, she said, and many aren’t using traditional services. "Most of them have lots of trauma and have just decided that they’re not gonna go to the shelter," said Griego, "so they end up finding other places to sleep throughout the community."

More people are expected to lose their homes due to economic impacts of the pandemic this winter.

Anyone wanting to pitch in with winter clothes, gear or food can contact Bottom at (505) 506-1604.

According to Facebook posts, there are other efforts underway in Albuquerque to help unhoused individuals survive this week: 

  •  A Light In The Night
  • ABQ Faithworks Collaborative is accepting donations of sleeping bags, blankets, socks, hats and gloves on Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2801 Lomas Ave. NE - ring doorbell at east entrance.

The Westside Emergency Housing Center, located at 7440 Jim McDowell NW, is open to men, women and families experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque.

Pick-up and drop-off location and times:

  • Pick-up: Coronado Park* (301 McKnight Ave NW); M-F 4 p.m., 5. p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m. & Sat-Sun 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. & 7 p.m.
  • Pick-up: God's Warehouse (8011 Central Ave. NE) Every evening at 5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Pick-up: Hope Works Day Shelter (1301 3rd ST NW) Sun - Fri. 5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Pick-up: Steel bridge (2021 2nd St NW) Women, Families w/ Children, & Disabled Guests Only; Sat - Fri, 4 p.m., 5. p.m. (if available), 7:30 p.m.
  • Drop-off: Hope Works Day Shelter (1301 3rd St NW) Pick-up: Sun - F 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
  • Drop-off: Coronado Park* (301 McKnight Ave NW); Sat 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
  • Drop-off: God's Warehouse (8011 Central Ave. NE) Every morning at 8 a.m.
  • Drop-off: Steel bridge (2021 2nd St NW) Women, Families w/ Children, & Disabled Guests Only; Mon - Sun 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
Hannah served as news director at KUNM and reported on education, Albuquerque politics, and anything public health-related. She died in November 2020.
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