Youth shelter to be completed in January

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

The new Roosevelt County Youth Shelter should be complete in January, filling what some say is a dire need, for a place to house displaced children and teens.

The Teambuilders counselors will use the shelter as a place to help Roosevelt County youth with any problems they may have. Teambuilders, a non-profit children’s community health center, was founded in 1995 in response to one community’s need for individualized services for its children families, and organizations.

Adrian Chavarria, operation officer out of the Teambuilders’ main office in Tucumcari, said Teambuilders’ officials are still talking about what population they will target with the youth shelter. It hasn’t been determined yet the age group that will be served but Chavarria says the upper cutoff will likely be either age 18 or 21.

“We’ve wanted to do something like this for the community,” Chavarria said. “I’m going to talk to our CEO about the population we are going to target. Whether it’s going to be all boys or all girls or both.”

Counselors and staff will be there 24 hours a day to help with food preparation, transporting children, tutoring and any personal issues.

Chavarria said the goal is to begin moving into the shelter in February. He said there is a referral process through the courts for the shelter to begin taking in teens and children. Chavarria said a change in the designs causing a reduction in how many they can house has caused them to re-evaluate which children they’ll be taking in and determine whether it’s going to be an emergency shelter or another type of shelter. Chavarria said state regulations are different for different types of shelters.

Chavarria said staff members from Teambuilders offices in Clovis and Portales have shown interest in working at the youth shelter. In any case, he said additional staff would need to be hired. He said the shelter will have a therapist and if prescription drugs need to be administered a psychiatrist.

Charlene Hardin, Roosevelt County administrator, said Roosevelt County received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant in 2003 from the New Mexico Department of Finance Administration. County officials hired an architect in 2003 for the design work on the shelter.

Hardin said cost of the construction was $528,000 with county officials paying for the additional $28,000. She said the county also had to pay for the architectural services at a cost of $52,000. Total cost of designing and constructing the shelter was close to $600,000.

The CDBG required a 10 percent by the county. Hardin, who did the paperwork and the grant-writing for the CDBG, said the county contributed more than the 10 percent match. She said county commissioners wanted the $500,000 to cover just construction costs, but rising costs for materials left them short of funds for equipment for the shelter.

“We requested what we were going to need for construction costs,” Hardin said. “But we’re not able to buy furniture and other equipment because of the increase in costs for concrete and steel in the last two years.”

Hardin said for the 2006 legislative capital outlay session county officials have requested $116,000 for furniture, kitchen equipment and to build an outdoor recreation area for basketball courts, landscape, etc.

Chavarria said the rising construction costs affected how many children will be housed in the youth shelter. He said originally the goal was to have 12 children living in the shelter, but that number dropped to eight because of reduction of space due to what the $528,000 could cover.

Hardin said the need for a shelter was established by members of the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office and other county agencies because of the lack of housing for those who are displaced. Hardin said there were not enough foster parents for children and a diagnostic or rehabilitation center is not the answer for some of them.

She said there will be bedrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms and office space at the shelter.