Santa Fe nonprofit partner awarded $100 million grant to aid homeless

Matt Dahlseid, The Santa Fe New Mexican
·2 min read

Apr. 9—A national nonprofit dedicated to helping communities end homelessness was awarded a $100 million grant Wednesday, and the city of Santa Fe is hoping to be one of many beneficiaries of the massive windfall.

Community Solutions, a New York-based nonprofit that last year partnered with the city in the purchase of a former extended-stay hotel to create more affordable housing in Santa Fe, won a global competition by the MacArthur Foundation to earn the grant.

The purpose of the "100&Change" grant is to fund a single proposal that "promises real and measurable progress" in solving homelessness, according to a news release from the foundation.

"The flywheel's going, and now we just hit it with some more resources with the $100 million from the MacArthur Foundation, so that's really going to be a game-changer for the country," Jamie Schleck, the nonprofit's chief financial officer, said Thursday at a news conference in front of St. Elizabeth Shelter.

Santa Fe joined Community Solutions' Built for Zero initiative in 2019 and is now one of 85 cities and counties across the U.S. that are working to end homelessness using data-driven methodology.

The city's relationship with the organization grew last year when they joined forces to purchase Santa Fe Suites off St. Francis Drive to create an affordable, mixed-income housing environment. Community Solutions put up $3.9 million toward the $9 million project, while the city contributed $2 million in CARES Act funds.

Community Solutions says it plans to eventually hand over ownership of the 123-unit location to St. Elizabeth, which manages the property.

Speaking at Thursday's news conference, Mayor Alan Webber said the project would not have been possible without Community Services' financial resources and advising arm.

City officials have been keeping an eye out for possibilities to replicate the Santa Fe Suites model by repurposing other properties into affordable housing as it wrestles with the community's homelessness issue.

"This is not one and done," Webber said.

Kyra Ochoa, acting director of the city's Community Health and Safety Department, said she hopes to see at least one similar project come to fruition within the next year.

Santa Fe Suites is one of five "targeted investment" projects Community Services has taken on across the country. Other sites include Atlanta, Denver and Washington, D.C.

Schleck said Thursday that he could "definitely see" Community Services making another similar investment in Santa Fe if the right opportunity arises, and he credits the city with taking advantage of its circumstances to move quickly on the Santa Fe Suites project.

"At a time that demands creativity and immediate action," Schleck said, "Santa Fe has developed an intervention that should be considered in cities across the country."