NMCEH Lobby Day 2019: Joining Forces to Make Change

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On February 7th, Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless (AHCH) joined the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness (NMCEH) along with 20 other community partners and roughly 20 individual community members at the State Capitol in Santa Fe for NMCEH Lobby Day in an effort to effect legislative change in our state.  Each year, NMCEH Lobby Day provides an opportunity to directly connect with state legislators, and the AHCH team was eager and enthusiastic to speak with them face-to-face about important issues that impact those experiencing homelessness in New Mexico. 

During Lobby Day, multiple teams were deployed to connect and talk to four designated legislators each and ask them to support bills that would expand funding and access to various housing-stability programs (see below).  AHCH was represented by eight advocates that provide services from across the organization, including Harm Reduction Outreach, Social Services, Fund Development, and Medical.  There was also representation from the AHCH Client Leadership Committee, Policy Committee, and Executive Leadership. Having participants from such a wide spectrum of experience and specialties made it possible to bring a unique collection of input and perspectives to the discussion. The goal was to engage them in support around the bills below. This year, we advocated for support of the following bills: Bill: Senate Bill 402 Sponsors: Senator Carlos Cisneros (D6), Senator Nancy Rodriguez (D24) Title: MFA Funds for Youth Homelessness Summary: Requests an appropriation in the amount of $413,000 to provide matching funds towards the New Mexico mortgage finance authority for the $3,370,000 grant for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, addressing youth homelessness in New Mexico.   Bill: House Bill 2 (Additions to) Sponsors: Representative Patricia A. Lundstrom (D9) Title: General Appropriation Act of 2018 Summary: The first proposed addition to this bill was to double funding to the Linkages Program of the Behavioral Health Services Division for a total of $2.7 million recurring annually.  This program provides housing to people with mental health disabilities throughout New Mexico. The second proposed addition to this bill was to increase funding to the Rental Assistance Program by $1 million for a total of $1.5 million.  This program helps obtain stable housing for those who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of experiencing homelessness.   While tracking down our State Representatives/Senators was not always an easy feat due to their busy schedules and the amount of other advocacy groups hoping to speak with them, it was surprising to find that, often with the help of their busy assistants, they were still largely accessible.  Our group was able to connect with and have meaningful conversations with many of them.  With issues surrounding homelessness being on the forefront of discussion this session, legislators were generally receptive to the discussion and interested in learning more. The Legislative Session came to a close on March 16th.  You can learn more about the outcomes of this session by visiting https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation_List.  You can also continue to make a difference reaching out and thanking the State Representatives who supported legislation efforts that will improve housing stability and help our state move in the direction of ending homelessness, as well as contacting them throughout the year to share your voice and opinion. Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless is grateful to partner with the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness on this annual activity. Lobby Day provides opportunities for community voices to be heard.  Please stay tuned for updates on the bills listed above and others that AHCH has been tracking throughout the session. Image Credits: upper left, AHCH Staff, Board Member, and Volunteers, Autumn Porter/ Lower right, Autumn Porter


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