The new NEST (Navigating Emergency Support Together) initiative, a collaborative project by several nonprofit organizations in Taos, is a countywide crisis shelter and emergency support services center. It is planning to open this November.
Located in the old Ancianos building in Taos behind Super Save; NEST will serve as an overnight housing shelter and day social services resource center.
The key partners of the program are Youth Heartline, the Taos Men’s Shelter, the Heart of Taos, and the Dreamtree Project. These four organizations already serve the community across all age and gender demographics of the people of Taos County.
Additional partners will also be providing day services at NEST. New Mexico Legal Aid, Recovery Friendly Taos, Taos LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion), AmeriCorp, and Veterans Off-Grid.
NEST will be offering services to the entirety of Taos County, including the communities of Questa, Costilla, and Peñasco, to the greatest degree possible.
“We are working with the 100% Community Initiative that works on a county-wide level on the 10 key services that everybody should have access to thrive,” says Catherine Hummel, executive director of the Dreamtree Project.
The NEST project is needed because of the large gap between Taos County’s average median income and the average market price of housing. A small family earning $40,000 per year in a service-based economy cannot afford the average two-bedroom house price of over $400,000.
These houses can sell on the market for so much more than local people can afford because of many factors, including out-of-state investment companies, non-resident individuals looking for a vacation home, and the profit incentive to build expensive housing. Although NEST will be working with the Taos Housing Project to address challenges to affordable housing, NEST will be functioning more as an emergency service for the housing crisis.
The shelter will be separated into men, women, and gender expansive dorms. Families can apply for hotel
NEST will have a low barrier policy, meaning people do not need to be sober to get help. There will be rules for nonviolence, however. “We just really don’t want anybody to freeze to death.” Catherine says.
The location of the NEST building is ideal for the day services initiative since it is in close proximity to public transit, grocery stores, and the St James food pantry. The daytime services advocates will help to facilitate a warm handoff to other organizations for clients to get the resources they need.
“The goal is that we would network with these other places. We don’t anticipate providing a full food pantry service. We will make it streamlined for community members, so if you’re in a crisis, you’re not then bounced to six different places to try to get the help you need.”
Keep an eye out for outreach efforts in the coming months in your communities.