By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
It’s no secret that homelessness in Albuquerque is an ongoing crisis. The crisis continues, despite inaccurate promises by some groups to “end” homelessness.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen panhandling increase prolifically all over the city, while at Joy Junction, desperate families-often with children-call or visit us daily asking for a meal and a place to stay. Many we can help; others we have to deny services often due to a lack of space.
To help address this issue, I’m excited to announce the official May 15 groundbreaking for our 52-unit apartment complex, located in southwest Albuquerque. The project, which is expected to be completed by fall 2017, will have units with 250 square feet of living space and a personal bathroom.
Guided by our mission to offer the homeless a safe and tranquil environment to live, it is our hope that this new complex will make the situation somewhat better for those experiencing homelessness.
More than three years ago, the James Boyd case caused us all to reflect on what we as a community could have done better to prevent a man from seeking shelter on a mountainside.
Despite our collective sense of disappointment and sadness over what transpired, it did lead many local organizations, community leaders and ordinary citizens to come together for discussion about what needs to change to address an issue that can’t merely be wished away.
Recognizing that “it takes a village” not only to raise a child but also to lift an individual from their worst days, Joy Junction is stepping up our efforts. It’s taken a while to happen, but the time is finally here. Today, we continue to act on our commitment to assist our city’s homeless and hungry with the groundbreaking for what will soon become a beautiful and dignified apartment complex.
For 30 years, Joy Junction has grown to now serve more than 10,000 meals each month, not including the 6,000-plus meals served by our mobile feeding unit dubbed The Lifeline of Hope.
Our staff also drive a van through the streets of Albuquerque in the darkest hours of the night in search of anyone who might need assistance with food, water and when available, a blanket or sleeping bag.
We’ve made it our mission to not only provide basic needs like food and shelter, but also emotional and spiritual assistance so individuals can get back on their feet.
Over time, we have noticed a growing need for living spaces that go beyond mere subsistence. Living in dignity can more quickly help bring about a positive and permanent change in the ongoing difficult situations experienced by the homeless.
When the homeless come to Joy Junction, they are often looking for more than a dry bed and a warm meal; they’re looking for hope-hope that they will find a way out of their troubles and a path to a better future.
Completion of this new apartment complex will now provide 52 additional opportunities for the homeless to better work through the issues with which they are beset and as a result, return to mainstream community life as taxpaying citizens.
In other words, this new complex will help us better meet the needs of our city’s homeless. While still needing many more dollars, we are confident that the community generosity which got us this far will take us past the finish line.
We have come a long way, especially in the last few years. And yet despite that, there is so much more work to be done. We hope everyone will continue to rise to the challenge that lies ahead, and together, we can end homelessness and hunger, one life and one meal at a time.
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