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Statement on Desert Hope Neighborhood
I am taking this opportunity to reach out to residents of City Council District 3, and particularly, those who live at the Desert Hope supportive housing complex located at 1310 Pecos St., and those in the surrounding neighborhood.
First, I want to thank the residents and business owners who live and work in this neighborhood for stepping up and pointing out the challenges they are facing. I appreciate the time each of you put into signing a petition, speaking at the City Council session on June 6th, recording your experiences to be shared with us, or attending the recent community-hosted meeting. This includes residents of Desert Hope, some of whom attended the meeting and shared their perspectives. Your willingness to commit yourself to bettering your neighborhood is commendable and appreciated.
I would like to provide updates on the ongoing efforts to remedy the problems you identified. As noted at the meeting, Desert Hope is a joint venture between the Mesilla Valley Public Housing Authority (MVPHA), Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH), and the City of Las Cruces. MVCH provides onsite support services to residents, as well as assisting them with referrals to off-site resources, such as medical appointments and specialized substance abuse treatment. MVPHA provides property management services, similar to the responsibilities of a landlord, along with onsite security. The City of Las Cruces does not participate directly in management of Desert Hope, but we are committed to the safety, security, and quality of life of the entire neighborhood.
As I have continued to look into this situation, I’ve learned that the issues are not wholly tied to Desert Hope. Many of the issues brought up are associated not with those living at the complex, but to people frequenting the surrounding area. To address the situation fully, we are working to identify strategies on and off the Desert Hope campus.
Since the community meeting on June 15th, the City (including the Las Cruces Police Department [LCPD]), MVCH, and MVPHA have been in continuous conversations to identify short- and long-term solutions to issues the neighborhood is experiencing.
- MVPHA has hired a new property manager, whose contract will begin on July 1st. This will enhance oversight of residents and boost communication with security personnel working within the complex.
- The City/LCPD has increased the presence of Community Outreach officers in the area. These officers work with residents, business owners, and vulnerable populations to address the types of problems the neighborhood is experiencing, such as trespassing, littering, and vandalism. LCPD has also mounted a security camera near Desert Hope, bolstering the complex’s current security camera system.
- LCPD will be working with area residents and business owners to establish a Neighborhood Watch group. This will increase law enforcement’s awareness of any illegal activity ongoing in the area. While living unhoused is not a crime, LCPD will address criminal offenses.
- Discussions are proceeding about the possibility of introducing a police substation in the area.
- MVCH’s Mano y Mano Day Labor program, which provides work opportunities for unhoused residents, along with supportive services, will be targeting the Desert Hope neighborhood for clean-up and maintenance operations. The City will soon be voting on expansion of this program, which will increase opportunities and benefits for all residents.
- MVCH has hired 1.5 staff to be onsite providing services to Desert Hope residents
- MVCH has an outreach team who is responding several times a week to clients who are experiencing homelessness around Desert Hope and the surrounding neighborhood and businesses.
- In the coming months, the City will be working on a plan to allocate and expend $1.7M in federal funding to assist individuals or households who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, and other vulnerable populations – providing housing, rental assistance, and supportive services, to reduce homelessness and increase housing stability for local residents.
I remain supportive of Desert Hope, and of the housing model it exemplifies. Residents of Desert Hope are members of this neighborhood and are key to workable, sustainable solutions. I will continue to work closely with all partners on these issues, and to provide updates as they evolve.
We are aiming to host a community meeting in mid-August to gather feedback on how these and other initial strategies are working. I will also share updates in the interim as things progress.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (575) 386-7541 with any questions or concerns.
Thank you –
Las Cruces City Councilor, District 3