Dawn Legacy Pointe
Why Dawn Legacy Pointe formed & why "Safe Outdoor Spaces" are needed
Dawn Legacy Pointe was formed to provide a safe space for people who have experienced sex trafficking or exploitation in the sex trade and other particularly vulnerable individuals to stabilize, connect, and reintegrate. This was necessary due to:
Needing to provide clients a sense of dignity for those unable to go to traditional shelters because:
They need to stay in the city for medical reasons
They have pets that are not allowed at the shelters
They need their own space and stability due to past traumas
They are fearful of someone or a group they know at the shelters
Other personal reasons that may disqualify them from staying at the other shelters
Occassional space shortages of shelters and outbreaks of covid-19, especially during the pandemic
Initial drop in funding to organizations that serve the population during the COVID-19 pandemic
Decrease of volunteers at area organizations, some of which helped with providing services in the housing pipeline
Poor stabilization conditions in unsanctioned encampments (clearing tents causes loss of IDs, family memorbilia, and important momentos), unclean living conditions, and safety issues among community member and law enforcement that affect even our unhoused mothers leading to harrassement and incarceration without proper medical care which has led to death in a facility that is understaffed.
An estimated expense of $17.25M per homicide plus the inter-generational trauma of children left behind. Providing pathways to stabilization of housing and employment is less financially expensive and leads to healthier communities
Lack of enforcement of laws regarding price disparity, price gouging, and promoting or pandering by slum lord-style motel management and slum-lord style landlords who profit off sex trafficking and exploitation
Enforcement could result in units being converted into affordable housing
Incentivize developers to build low income affordable housing through tax breaks
Cause socio-economic mobility by having more mixed income level housing, because it is all about who you know
Convert unused schools, mobile school buildings, commercial in correctly zoned areas, and other buildings into affordable housing including dorm style living
Housing vouchers being revoked by non-profit agencies when clients have not been able to find a landlord willing to accept them fast enough. Some agencies revoke within a month, while others have been kind enough to give up to eight months
Prevalent misunderstandings of the re-housing system due to people couch surfing or occassionally staying indoors that break up the nine month requirement of literal homelessness to receive most housing vouchers
Prior to the zoning regulations changing that allowed the legislation for Safe Outdoor Spaces to be passed, current members of Dawn Legacy Pointes Board of Directors had seen the difference having safe outdoor shelter made for people. In the instance of Jolene Nez, her child might have lost both mother and grandmother had it not been for the grandmother being given permission to stay outdoors within a fenced commercial property. This allowed the grandmother to stabilize by finding work, qualifying her for a rapid re-housing voucher. During the time the grandmother stayed on the commerical property, the property renters and owner had been threatened with citations for allowing camping in an area that was not zoned or licensed as a campground. This is one of the first stories that inspired the idea for Safe Outdoor Spaces. The grandmother is now working, self-sufficient, and raising her grandchild.
Who we are
Our board of directors
In July 2022 we applied to incorporate with the New Mexico Secretary of State, and will be filing for our 501(c)3 non-profit status next. Dawn Legacy Pointe was the first Safe Outdoor Space application submitted to the City of Albuquerque, and was approved on August 10, 2022 to be the first Safe Outdoor Space in the city.
What is the connection to Street Safe New Mexico?
Dawn Legacy Pointe is a separate entity from Street Safe New Mexico, who will be handling our accounting as our fiscal sponsor until we receive 501(c)3 status. In comparison, the Transgender Resource Center was originally Street Safe New Mexico's fiscal sponsor. It is important to recognize for funding purposes that these are two separate organizations that will not be sharing funds. All Dawn Legacy Pointe funding will be held in a separate account designated for use towards "Safe Outdoor Spaces" which Dawn Legacy Pointe will access via grants from Street Safe New Mexico, and we will not receive direct financial support from Street Safe New Mexico general funds. Essentially, Street Safe New Mexico will be handling our accounting, and we have to request the funds via a grant request. If for any reason Dawn Legacy Pointe is found to be unable to pursue our mission then the funds be used by Street Safe New Mexico's for another safe outdoor space. If the Safe Outdoor Spaces were no longer legal, then the funds could go to the general expenses and other housing options.
Dawn was known by many in the southeast part of Albuquerque. She was a fierce, spirited, religious, family-oriented woman proud of her Norse Viking heritage. She also love stuffed animals and would always keep them on her to talk to as a form of comfort. Having grown up in an abusive home while excelling academically, she then went on to deal with almost everything the people we aim to serve deal with including being unhoused and exploited. Dawn tragically passed away after being ran over back-to-back by numerous vehicles in the middle of the night. She left behind two children plus a very talented sibling, and a "rap" sheet of over 34 court cases showing evidence of a lack of appropriate care through a system that failed her while she struggled to reunite with her family. We aim to provide a temporary space to anyone who has experienced sex trafficking and exploitation as they overcome barriers, but especially people like Dawn that the system has been failing. By spending more time together, we can provide dignity, grace, equity, inclusion.... and hope.
We have attempted to reach out to the family to receive their blessing to share more about who Dawn was, but have been unsucessful in reaching them. We will continue attempting to reach out. In the future, we would like others to know more about her, so that she and our other "sisters" in the trade and on the streets are not forgotten.
Frequently asked questions
Dawn Legacy Pointe will be located at 1250 Menaul Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87107. The property is owned by the Albuquerque Solid Waste Management Department, who have graciously agreed to let us use the property for a monthly fee. While we understand the connotations of this, the property is prime for who we will be providing services to since it is located in an area where sex trafficking already occurs, and has bus lines which run both to downtown and to other areas around the city where our clients will receive services. We also know that our client residents are people who have been through tough situations, are extremely resilient, and capable of making something great from the property.
What about the noise from I-25 & I-40?
While it is not ideal, perfection is the enemy of progress. We think using ear plugs and white noise can help.
Does this mean there will be more trafficking around Martineztown neighborhood and the truck stop?
By providing those experiencing sex trafficking and exploitation a safe and free place to stay, they can exit from being forced or pressured to provide sexual services which means they can spend more time enjoying life at Dawn Legacy Pointe during their residency with us and put effort into moving forward in their lives. We also expect to have client residents from legal sectors of the sex trade, who are not able to make ends meet, and will be providing them space so they do not end up on the streets or in dangerous situations as others have. Additionally, Dawn Legacy Pointe will be working with organizations in other parts of the city. The clients may utilize both private and public transportation to reach these other service providers, which will take them back out of the area during various times of the day. It is important to realize that the people we serve have experienced sex crimes, which does not make them criminals, and many began having these experiences prior to turning 18 but are ostracized and stigmatized the day after turning 18. We suggest watching the Ted Talk The Fight Against Sex Slavery by Sunitha Krishnan, particularly at 8mins and 59 seconds, to help understand how to change community views of those who have experienced sex trafficking or exploitation. Dr. Krishnan states:
"My biggest challenge is a civil society. It's you and me.
My biggest challenge is your blocks to accept these victims as our own."
The organization is non-religious, however, Dawn was very religious. With this in mind, we encourage those who are of faith to participate in their local faith communities as a way to re-connect and inspire hope. If a client resident needs help connecting to an outside faith group who will be accepting of them they may contact the Manager or a Board member for help.
Will Dawn Legacy Pointe only accept women?
The organization seeks to serve and prioritize those affected by sex trafficking and exploitation. Since sex trafficking is not exclusive to women, and is sometimes seen in young men, we will be accepting everyone with these experiences including trans and non-binary. However, the vast majority will be women.
Can someone stay at Dawn Legacy Pointe if they have an active warrant?
While Dawn Legacy Pointe may agree to accept someone who has an active warrant, they cannot move in to Dawn Legacy Pointe until their warrant has been cleared. Our team is happy to give referrals for legal assistance and information to people dealing with active warrants. We hope this will incentivize people to want to deal with their warrants.
Will Dawn Legacy Pointe accept people with pets?
The organization will accept people with pets on a case by case basis. All pets must be legal, up-to-date on shots, registered, and kept on a leash if they have legs. If the client has a pet that does not meet the shot and registration requirement we will work with them to get their pets up to date.
What will Dawn Legacy Pointe be like?
A manager will be on site during the majority of most days. This will be supplemented by having level one security that will contact either the manager, a board member, or the Albuquerque Police Department as needs arise.
What will most of the client residents go on to do once they are in Dawn Legacy Pointe?
Our client residents' goal maps and pathways out of situations will vary. Many will have medical issues that need to be addressed first, and with the assistance of a new FDA approved device we hope to move many of them through the traditional medical challenges faster. A small percent, due to difficulty attaining vouchers and lack of affordable housing accepting vouchers, will move into their own places prior to finding work through the help of housing vouchers. Many will need to go directly into working at their current skill level or back to school.
What if a client resident wants to pursue higher education?
We applaud anyone wanting to pursue higher education because of the connection to socio-economic mobility, and for people coming out of "the trade" this can provide a new form of validation and sense of value. One of the best things Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham did was to make higher education free for New Mexican residents. This means fewer people will be entering the sex trade to be able to afford higher education and less will be trafficked. The decision also opened up a pathway out for people who have already experienced sex trafficking and exploitation. Kudos, Governor Lujan Grisham! Some of the clients may still be young enough to complete adult high school and receive their diploma to qualify for free college. Others will need to complete the GED or Hi-Set, which they can receive free tutoring for either locally or through a national program that provides tutoring specific to people who have experienced sex trafficking and exploitation. Upon completion, our client residents may become eligible for free or very low-cost housing, based on income, while attending college in-state. Assistance with housing costs could then be covered by Pell Grants and scholarships. Additionally, our Board Chair has experience in helping people access ACE and NCCRS recommended alternative college credits either free or inexpensively online, and we will educate clients on how to use these resources. Some clients may choose to by-pass the GED or Hi-SET by gaining enough alternative college credits, typically around 18 credits, to be directly admitted to college. We believe there are many different paths to success, and it is up to the client resident to choose the path... and for us to walk the path with them and assist in finding ways to overcome barriers.
Will counseling or peer support be provided?
We strongly believe peer support is the best answer, but also believe one-on-one counseling with professionals can be beneficial for some people. The best for us and our client residents would be to create a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with mental health providers where the client resident's insurance can be billed directly by the provider for services provided both off-site and on-site. We are open to talking to potential mental health providers about this. Additionally, we hope to run certified peer support groups on-site and in other locations which would be overseen by a Clinical Director. This also provides an opportunity for clients willing to go through certification to begin working. Finally, if clients do not have insurance or prefer to have peer support exclusively outside of the local community, we can refer them for telephone call-in support groups.
What else will clients learn about?
Financial management through various board games, online games, and books
Genealogy - Connecting to one's ancestry gives a powerful sense of where one comes from that can be healing, regardless of current family connection. We are lucky to have one molecular biologist obsessed with DNA and an amatuer genealogist on our board of directors who can help clients residents get started in understanding DNA and genealogy.
Through studying DNA and genealogy, we hope to encourage more client residents to take up an interest in connecting to their own family stories and doing forensic genealogy research. This forensic work can be done from home and it is a hot growing field with volunteer opportunities such as the DNA Doe Project. With so many people around the world who have experienced sex trafficking and been killed, forensic genealogy could enable our client residents to learn how to start advocating for their peers in a new and exciting way to bring justice. Meanwhile, we will start them with genetic testing and trips to the downtown library for the genealogy research days.
Additionally, we will be engaging client residents in helping others to connect to their genealogy and helping to maintain local cemeteries. We would love to see our client residents helping to provide documentation for families on websites such as Find-A-Grave by creating online memorials and uploading photos. We also would like to arrange cemetery clean-up days. To begin with, we will be putting together a list of those who have experienced sex trafficking and exploitation who have passed away, along with volunteers who helped, and engage the client residents in keeping those graves maintained across the city. Our hope is the client residents will eventually want to take on doing more.
What about the Memorial Park next door?
As many know, our location backs up to a beautiful memorial park, one where some of our community and volunteers have been laid to final rest. The Memorial Park is also a non-profit and has been struggling to maintain their property due to people using the property inappropriately. We do not feel this can be blamed on specifically on people who have experienced sex trafficking and exploitation.
Our board approached the Memorial Park's Executive Director prior to opening to see if we may be able to partner with them to find solutions by having our client residents help with clean-up. At this time, he is not sure that the organization's insurance would allow for this solution. Our board is currently brainstorming other solutions that might be beneficial to both organizations.
Meanwhile, we welcome other memorial parks and cemeteries to reach out to us if they need help keeping their spaces looking nice. Not only is this a way for the client residents to feel they have an opportunity to give back to our community and to feel valued, but volunteering also helps provides them references for employment applications to the majority of Albuquerque employers who do not use an open hiring model. Memorial park and cemetary clean up ties in well with our plan to integrate genealogy education and training into our program.
Finally, we encourage community members to donate more to the Memorial Park to help them hire more staff to deal with people committing property crimes on their property.
Will the clients participate in any other activities?
Yes, we will likely get clients participating in other activities both at Dawn Legacy Pointe and around town. Art and dance both have been shown to be theraputic. We may also see about getting clients involved in baseball (at an off-site location) as two of the board members have a love and history tied to the game.
How will the clients find work?
We will rely on a combination of assistance from our board of directors, volunteers, other non-profits, and hopefully a professional staffing agency. Many of the clients will need help with building a résumé and finding appropriate ways to discuss their experience as well as extensive gaps in work history. Additionally, most of the clients will be eligible for services from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, which can cover the cost of job developers, certification courses, and equipment needed to work or go to school. We also expect that some clients will qualify for the Social Security Administration's "Ticket to Work" program.
I am an employer, how can I make returning to work easier for the client residents?
In the future, we may create a training and certification program so that employers understand unique challenges faced by our client residents and how to deal with the challenges. Meanwhile, we suggest for entry level positions that you use open hiring practices (which often eliminate résumés, interviews, background checks, etc.) for jobs where people can be quickly trained. A small investment through open hiring often results in more dedicated staff, and people hired through open hiring tend to value their job more because they know how hard jobs can be to find for someone with barriers. Employers can advertise that they use open hiring practices and a brief description of the term meaning. Employers who are interested in hiring Dawn Legacy Pointe client residents may also contact us directly so that we can make the resident clients aware of open positions.
I am a business owner, what can I do?
Why not just build more tiny home or multi-family transitional housing with city funds?
We think the better question is, "Why not build more permanent affordable housing?" While we agree that this model is not ideal, we are also looking at the facts that the real problem is a lack of permanent affordable housing. Instead of spending money on transitional housing, which is often expensive and has unexpected infrastructure costs, the money should primarily go to permanent affordable housing while keeping any transitional living minimal so our community can have more permanent affordable housing faster. Please see the documentary on Amazon called United States of Tents. For the cost to start and run Dawn Legacy Pointe for a full year a person could purchase a meager two to three bedroom two bath home without closing costs. With this model, the community will be providing shelter, dignity, and hope to 50 people rather than three to six that might fit in a home depending on how they get along.
Our governments have historically not invested in permanent affordable housing... and this is how we got to the point we are today with so many people experiencing sex trafficking and exploitation to survive.
We are interested in receiving the following tangible items:
Rechargeable lights for tents
Unused laptops and tablets
Robes for walking back from the showers
Solar power or hand crack power banks to charge electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops
Total wireless (or similar) no-contract pre-paid phones (phones are often stolen or lost and many lack IDs to get Obama phones or are no longer eligible)
We would also like:
Financial literacy board games
A Survivor's Guide to Money - workbooks, student books, and/or online class access
Genetic testing kits and funds for GEDMatch memberships - for clients to learn more about their ancestry to reconnect with their family history regardless of status