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Athena Huckaby, who works in health care in Las Cruces, is one of the participants in this year’s Tents to Rents campaign, which is raising funds to help improve the quality of life for people struggling with homelessness at Mesilla Valley Community of Hope’s Camp Hope tent city, and to move some of the camp’s residents into their own apartments.
“I am working with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH) to raise funds to help people break the chains of homelessness and move into stable housing,” Huckaby said.
Visit tentstorents.org and find Huckaby’s name to make a donation to her fundraising campaign on behalf of Tents to Rents. Or, you can donate to one of the other participants, who include Doña Ana Community College President Monica Torres, New Mexico State University Arrowhead Park Executive Director Wayne Savage, Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces Village Housing Helpers, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, Unitarian Universalist Church or one of the other individuals or organizations that is participating this year.
By mid-September, MVCH had raised more than $50,000 of this year’s goal of $60,000 for the Tents to Rents campaign. The campaign continues through Friday, Oct. 8.
“The experience of homelessness can start not from a single catastrophic event or life choice, but rather simply from a series of small events that lead to unstable housing,” Huckaby said.
A Camp Hope story
Carolyn joined the Community of Hope only recently, when her efforts to connect with a friend in El Paso didn’t work out according to plan, Huckaby said.
Carolyn is originally from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and held various jobs there, including caring for developmentally disabled children.
“She is clearly a very giving person, and sees the best in everyone she meets, even if sometimes they end up disappointing her,” Huckaby said. “But she remains a hopeful person – she hopes the job she just landed a few days ago will be a good fit for her, and that she will do well. She would like to have enough security in her job to be able to establish herself in an apartment, and she also would like to go back to school and complete a degree, so she could have more employment opportunities. She is looking into possibilities to attend NMSU, where she hopes to study law or social work. Carolyn is optimistic about her future and hopes to keep a job and find more stable housing in the near future.”
In fact, Carolyn had her eligibility interview Sept. 9 to get an apartment at Desert Hope Apartments, said MVCH Executive Director Nicole Martinez.
“MVCH is committed to paying the security deposit for clients entering the Desert Hope Apartments this year,” Martinez said, adding that funds raised through Tents to Rents “is helping us do that.”
Desert Hope is a partnership among MVCH, Mesilla Valley Public Housing Authority, the City of Las Cruces and the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, with additional funding provided by the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority. The 40-apartment complex opened in August and provides efficiency apartments to people who are struggling with homelessness.
To be a Tents to Rents participant or sponsor, call 575-523-2219 and email email@example.com.
Visit tentstorents.org to donate.
Homelessness in Las Cruces
There are probably about 250 to 300 people struggling with homelessness on the streets of Las Cruces right now, Martinez said. Martinez said about 100 of those people likely are not receiving any services.
Speaking Sept. 10, during the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Leadership Las Cruces program, Martinez said MVCH offers a wide range of services to people struggling with homelessness, including Camp Hope, which can house up to 50 people at a time; help finding permanent housing; clothing; income support; employment referrals; and assistance and referrals to other social service agencies.
Martinez said MVCH helps 500 to 600 people a year move into permanent housing.
When she started in 2006, Martinez said, MVCH received funding from a single housing program. Today, she said, there are nearly a dozen federal, state and local housing programs providing funding to MVCH.
The MVCH campus at 999 W. Amador Ave., also includes El Caldito Soup Kitchen, Amador Health Center, Casa de Peregrinos emergency food program and Jardin de los Niños childcare and education program for children and families struggling with homelessness.