Lawmakers approved $46 million for new housing projects across New Mexico

By: - March 7, 2022 4:30 am

Tents set up under the “Scales of Justice” sculpture at sunset outside the Metropolitan Court in Downtown Albuquerque as part of a housing rights demonstration and overnight camp-in on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Photo by Marisa Demarco / Source NM)

Lawmakers across New Mexico approved at least $46 million to spend on new housing or housing-related projects, according to a new database of capital outlay requests.

Rural and urban parts of the state are facing issues with deteriorating housing stock, housing shortages and homelessness. Over the last two years of the pandemic, home and rent prices soared. 

A recent analysis by the Housing New Mexico Advisory Committee found the state needs 32,000 more affordable housing units to meet demand. More than 200,000 New Mexicans spend more than 30% of their incomes on housing, according to the committee.

But lawmakers did not appear to make housing a priority in the cash they pulled down for housing-related construction, according to a new database created by journalist Chris Keller and Russ Biggs, a local computer programmer. 

The database, available here, breaks down the types of capital projects requested by tribal, county and local governments. Categories include “water infrastructure,” “health care,” “housing,” “public safety” and others.

They identified 24 projects related to housing. Despite the need, that’s only 1.8% of the 1,327 projects lawmakers funded. The $47 million approved for housing-related projects represents 5.6% of the total capital spending contained in Senate Bill 212

City, county and tribal governments are among the recipients. And “housing” doesn’t just mean houses or apartments people could rent or buy. Included in the spending is $20 million in Sierra County for the creation of a new veteran’s home and $35,000 for new fencing at a shelter in Albuquerque. 

One big tribal allocation is $1.2 million to “furnish and construct community housing projects” for the Santo Domingo Pueblo in Sandoval County. 

Adding transparency to capital outlay money:

The database created by journalist Chris Keller, and Russ Biggs, an “open data evangelist.” The creators used programming language Python to pull the 2,300-plus capital outlay requests from the Legislature’s website. 

The database provides a county-by-county look at the amount and cost of projects requested, plus breaks those projects into categories by type. The creators note that some of the data requests appeared to be low for the project requested, noting that one such request was for $20.

This year, local, tribal and state governments requested more than 2,300 projects across the state, totaling about $5 billion. The capital outlay bill is passed each year and funds all or part of new infrastructure or construction — things like buildings, parks, roads or acequia upgrades. 

The requests did seek more housing funding — $129 million for 28 projects —  than lawmakers ultimately approved. Ten items were not included in the final package, but six more were later added, according to an analysis by Keller.

The biggest housing request was $30 million for a new shelter at the Gibson Health Hub, a medical center. That funding was approved but the amount allocated was drastically reduced to $421,757. 

Half of the 24 approved projects are in Bernalillo County.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until March 9 to sign the capital outlay bill. In the past, she’s exercised her line-item veto power, crossing off requests or trimming out some spending altogether. 

Beyond capital outlay, other state money was spent on housing by the Legislature.

Lujan Grisham signed a bill on Thursday that will put between $20 million and $25 million toward the construction and maintenance of affordable housing each year, overseen by the Mortgage Finance Authority. This year’s capital-outlay bill also includes $9 million for the trust fund. The bill the governor signed will also dedicate 2.5% of annual tax revenues from oil and gas toward a trust fund for this purpose. 

The money will go toward construction, maintenance, weatherizing and energy efficiency improvements for housing. The additional funding for the trust fund could mean 4,578 more affordable housing units in the state, according to an analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee. 

“Every New Mexican deserves a safe, affordable and comfortable place to live, and this funding stream will make a real difference in the lives of New Mexicans, especially in rural areas of the state,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release announcing her signature on the trust fund boost. 

Here’s the full list of housing projects approved with the description included in the bill


County Project Name State Dept, if applicable Amount
Sierra NM veterans’ home new facility  construction Health  $20,000,000
Statewide        NM Housing Trust Fund Mortgage Finance Authority $9,000,000
Statewide Youth intermediate care facilities construction Children Youth and Families $3,750,000
Statewide Sub-acute residential facilities Children Youth and Families $3,000,000
Statewide Statewide housing improvements Aging and Long-Term Services $2,000,000
Sandoval Santo Domingo pueblo housing construct $1,200,000
Statewide Therapeutic group homes construction CYFD $1,000,000
Santa Fe San Ildefonso pueblo housing development construction $1,000,000
Lincoln Ruidoso workforce housing development $980,000
Santa Fe public housing site upgrade $835,000
Bernalillo Albuquerque Youth Facility purchase $585,000
Bernalillo Homeless family facility construction $464,204
Bernalillo Affordable housing construction $455,000
Bernalillo Gibson health hub improvements $421,757
Bernalillo deaf blind & hard of hearing complex $400,000
Bernalillo family services facilities construction $350,000
Bernalillo Albuquerque encuentro center renovation $345,000
Bernalillo Albuquerque supportive housing rehab acquisition $225,000
Bernalillo Recovery support housing project construction $221,100
Bernalillo Safe outdoor space project construct $160,000
Taos Affordable housing project construction $150,000
San Juan gadii’ahi/to’koi housing tract plan $75,000
Bernalillo Albuquerque New Day homeless facility fence  installation $45,000
Bernalillo Albuquerque New Day multipurpose center fence installation $35,000


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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard.