Camp Hope in the snow.
Among the many services the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope provides homeless people, Camp Hope is perhaps the most visible. In addressing the problem of homelessness the MVCH is guided by the “housing first” model—that is, the first and primary need is to provide homeless people with safe, affordable, and stable housing. Other essential services, such as alcohol and drug abuse treatment and mental health services, which the MVCH also provides, should follow.Camp Hope, a self-governing transitional living community that provides temporary, transitional shelter in the form of tents, showers, and cooking facilities, is an important first step toward realizing that goal. Currently about 50 homeless persons reside at Camp Hope. Residents range in age from 25 to 65. Although residents live in Camp Hope from several weeks to several months, our goal is to enable them to transition to permanent housing as quickly as possible.Our Tents to Rents annual fundraising project provides funding to support this transition.It’s not easy to live in tents through chilly nights in a cold New Mexico winter. With the support of many agencies and volunteers from the Las Cruces community, we have steadily improved living conditions at Camp Hope, adding a full service bathroom, laundry facilities, a kitchen and other amenities. We recently began erecting three-sided structures to surround the tents and protect residents from the wind and cold. The shelters were designed by Doña Ana Community College Director of Construction Trades Kevin Gall and built by volunteers, including students from DACC. Currently four structures have been built; our goal is to erect 35 shelters.
Camp Hope’s location on the MVCH campus enables its residents to have ready access to the many services that MVCH provides, including mail service, assistance and referrals to social service agencies, case management, and assistance in obtaining needed identification documents. Such services are an essential part of our comprehensive program to help the homeless transition to safe, permanent housing.
Since its beginnings in 2011, Camp Hope has received numerous accolades, including full recognition by the Las Cruces City Council, a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services, and being named a “best practice” example at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Most importantly, we’ve received the support of many local and state agencies and the strong backing of the community.Without Camp Hope many chronically homeless persons would be living on the streets under precarious, unsafe conditions. Camp Hope provides a safe, compassionate, and dignified place for homeless people to make life changes and transition to safe, permanent housing. For more information about Camp Hope and for a more intimate look at life at Camp Hope, please visit the web page developed by residents of the camp.
Residents with the ‘Inspiring Idea of the Year’ award
Camp Hope tipi
Horno used by the residents
A three-sided structure
The resident’s garden