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Officials from Santa Fe visited Las Cruces in late November to talk about issues related to poverty and homelessness.
“The governor cares very passionately about developing an economy that works for everybody, and that includes our neighbors here who may be down on their luck,” New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions Sec. Bill McCamley said Friday, Nov. 22, as he and officials from two other departments of state government visited Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.
McCamley and other DWS staff, along with staff from the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and the state Taxation and Revenue Department’s Motor Vehicle Division spent the day at MVCH helping clients, including residents of MVCH’s Camp Hope Tent City, obtain driver’s licenses or other personal IDs, get copies of their birth certificates and flu shots, and help them with preparing resumes, searching for jobs and honing job-interview skills.
NMDOH also had staff from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program onsite “to both provide services to existing clients and enroll any qualified mothers and children for supplemental nutritional assistance,” according to an NMDOH news release.
“Sometimes you have to meet people where they’re at,” McCamley said, noting that MVCH clients often don’t have transportation to state offices to obtain housing and job services.
And because many homeless or near homeless people can’t afford pay for the services they need, McCamley made a personal donation of $250 to pay for IDs and birth certificates ($10 each). His donation will be combined with a $250 donation from the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce and funding from MVCH to pay for the services.
McCamley said the state conducted its first homeless services event in Albuquerque’s South Valley in October. He then contacted Martinez to see if MVCH could benefit from the same onsite services in Las Cruces.
“It’s obviously working,” McCamley said Friday morning, as nearly 60 people signed up for help and many were in line shortly after the event began.
Las Cruces is unique because all its homeless services are located together on the MVCH campus and across the street at the Gospel Rescue Mission, McCamley said. The state will take what it learns from the Las Cruces event and apply it as it takes homeless services to other New Mexico cities.
“That’s how you get out of being homeless,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable,” Martinez said about the event. MVCH provides a lot of the services the state brought to its campus, she said, but “on a much smaller and slower scale.” Providing expedited services means clients can get housing, job opportunities and other assistance they need more quickly.
“It’s huge,” Martinez said. “This has just made it so efficient.” McCamley, she said, has been “amazing in spearheading” the initiative.