With the recent confirmation of Dr. Ben Carson as Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development and recognizing that the availability of decent and affordable housing for many families in nothern New Mexico is scarce, we propose that Dr. Carson visit New Mexico. Below is an exceprt from Albuquerque Journal guest column written by Las Cumbres employee Siena Sanderson, a Family Navigator, assisting families in Taos County with access to much needed and often vital community resources and services. As Sanderson states, housing is quickly becoming a pressing social determinant of health outcomes.
"Let's Invite Ben Carson to visit New Mexico" (January 23, 2017) During Dr. Ben Carson’s nominating hearing he mentioned his intention to do a “listening tour” once he assumed his responsibility as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development to help him determine the country’s housing needs. I would like New Mexico to join me in inviting Dr. Carson to make New Mexico his first stop. We are amidst a housing crisis not unlike much of America.
I am currently working as a family navigator for Las Cumbres Community Services in Taos, where I connect families to community resources. There is no doubt the difficulty in finding affordable housing is one of the greatest challenges our families face every day. The majority of families we work with are low income. The local Housing Authority has nearly 1,000 people on their wait lists. There are several low income projects built with Tax Credit Housing funds but not nearly enough to address the magnitude of need. I expect this is the case across the state of New Mexico.
We must look at housing as a health issue as it is a social determinant of health outcomes. According to the policy.mic website, in New Mexico one would need to work 64-plus hours a week to pay for a market rate one bedroom apartment if you earn minimum wage and your housing burden is one-third of your income. That does not leave much time for healthy family life, especially when many our families are single mothers ... If people cannot find stable housing, their children will suffer socially and emotionally.
The many providers who work with the housing crisis in our state would like very much to meet with Dr. Carson during his “listening tour.” He said, “I want to hear from the people with boots on the ground who are administering programs.” Well, we should send the message to Dr. Carson that our boots are on the ground and we promise to talk and hope he will listen.
Visit the agency's Family Navigation services page for more information on what is provided through the program.