Affordable Housing in Alamogordo A Multi-pronged Approach


Alamogordo is at a crossroads on multiple fronts jobs and housing affordability are two important issues of concern. 

Recruiting new business to the city that pays living wages is a need that seems to continue to allude political and business leadership. A new direction for the Center of Commerce with a new attitude and a new director with a commitment to better partnership with business and government is a step forward. Taking the politics out of discussions and backing away from controversy, finding common ground between the various factions of Alamogordo and building upon the diversity of the community is a start. 

A major issue for Alamogordo is housing. That issue may only get worse unless the city addresses the needs of area developers for modification of zoning laws , lot setbacks and resets standards and ordinances to be more builder friendly like Las Cruces, which explains the housing boom in that nearby community.

For Alamogordo affordable housing is an issue and many military families are choosing to live in Las Cruces rather than Alamogordo as a result. Without affordable housing businesses suffer as does the city as a whole. Without affordable housing options poverty increases and then for a subset that is growing rapidly a larger percentage of the population falls into a category of housing insecurity. 

As Maureen Schmittle reminded us in January 2022 via an opinion piece: “Housing insecurity spans a range of situations: staying in a motel unsure if you can afford it beyond this month; “couch-surfing” – staying with friends or relatives until they ask you to leave; or just being unable to secure long-term affordable housing with adequate space for your family. There are people we see on the streets, who we believe are chronically homeless. We suspect they might be sleeping in a tent, sleeping in a park, or in an abandoned building. In other towns, we might assume there is an overnight shelter available. We might empathize, but feel at a loss for how to help, or feel guilty for having all that we do. In general, seeing a homeless person brings up difficult emotions, perhaps including negative feelings about that person, for those of us who have our most basic needs met.”

Nadia Sikes on October 20th of 2023 explained to the public a goal and a mission with 100% Otero around affordable housing…”The homelessness crisis in Alamogordo and in communities around the state and country must be addressed. We have to support communities, individuals and organizations that work to make housing accessible to all. 100% Otero, a local grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating childhood trauma, has a mission to ensure that 100% of county residents have access to the ten vital services for surviving and thriving. One of the surviving services is housing.”

When we look around Alamogordo we see an increase in homelessness and indeed a recent point of time count was conducted as mandated via the Census and by HUD. Providing accurate data to the city, county, state and HUD, could result in acquiring dollars to address this crisis as one of many tools but that alone won’t solve the area affordability issues in housing. In early 2023, the Point in Time count documented 49 unsheltered people in Otero County. There probably are more unhoused since this is a difficult population to count. Local officials have identified the lack of housing, and especially affordable housing, as a crisis in our community. At KALH Radio and we agree.

To end homelessness once and for all, community members, together with federal, state and local governments, must invest in proven solutions at the scale necessary to address the problem.

The solution is multi-pronged. A part of the solution is recruitment of fair pay employers and employers that pay a livable wage to second chance and at risk workers. Another prong in the solution is government modifications to city ordinances and regulations to make it more appealing and attractive to developers to create affordable housing projects in the city. And yet another prong on the issue as a solution is embracing the Housing First model which is proven in other cities across the country as one of the best strategies for ending homelessness in collaboration with the others listed above. 

Per a recent editorial by Nadia Sikes, “What is Housing First? Housing First is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus providing housing and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to other concerns, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues. Additionally, Housing First is based on the understanding that client choice is valuable in housing selection and that exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life.”

This past May, the New Mexico Governor signed an executive order that created the Housing Investment Council with a mission to make New Mexico’s affordable housing development meet the housing demands in our state.

100% Otero has a housing action committee assisting the community and working with various levels of lead to ensure results. In Alamogordo and Otero county through 100% Otero efforts the county initiative’s Housing Action Team’s mission is to identify gaps in county services; strengthen service organizations; and create a networked countywide system of services, timely support and empowerment. 

The Action Team works with partners in the housing security systems field to ensure that all county residents have timely access to the services they need. This includes assessing to what degree county residents have easy access to services and identifying barriers and their causes. Barriers may include prohibitive costs, lack of personal or public transportation and lack of awareness of services offered. Innovations in this area include a variety of evidence-informed strategies shown to improve overall access and quality of services.

Housing insecurity affects all of us. Many locals are less than a paycheck away from homelessness. The local middle class is struggling, local poverty rates are increasing and there is a shortage of housing general let alone affordable housing.

Over the next few months KALH Radio and will be providing stories and information on the various perspectives around affordable housing. We will be offering dialog and information around several options and potential solutions on the many pieces to the puzzle, that can be pieced together to offer solutions to the overall housing crises and the affordability crises in Alamogordo and Otero County. 

We will be hosting stories and pieces of the solution from 100% Otero, government leaders, from other nonprofits, from faith based organizations and from business leadership from the Executive Director of the Center of Commerce to nationally recognized yet local based developers such as French Brothers Homes leadership. Solutions to affordable housing is a mixture of community engagement and required multidisciplinary solutions. No single solution is a fix.

Stay turned to our series to learn how solution’s evolve from a variety sources and how collaboration brings productive dialogue and a multi pronged approach brings together solutions. 

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