Life-Saving Program, Also Saves Your Tax Dollars


Unveiling of Albuquerque Heading Home initiative cost study as well as powerful gallery and video viewing


ALBUQUERQUE– Homelessness is a tough social issue that plagues people in cities across the country, but in Albuquerque a recent study done by the University of New Mexico’s Social Research Institute revealed the city has a solution that isn’t just humane, it’s also saving money.

In winter 2011, being homeless in Albuquerque was not only difficult it was deadly. The city was entrenched in the freezing temperatures of a 100 year storm. In blizzard-like conditions, Mayor Richard J. Berry launched the Albuquerque Heading Home initiative with street outreach, done by hundreds of volunteers, to the City’s most medically vulnerable and most likely to pass away on the streets. After incubating the initiative he handed it over to nonprofit, Heading Home to implement the program and continue the work.

Today, five years later, the Albuquerque Heading Home initiative has housed 610 individuals and their family members, saved millions of taxpayer dollars and is helping to end homelessness.

During an event that showcased the human stories behind the program through film and photography, the Mayor, City Officials, volunteers, partner agencies, representatives from UNM and advocates joined together to hear the results of a cost study analyzing the Albuquerque Heading Home initiative. Highlights from the study showed that:

  • Investing in Albuquerque Heading Home creates a 78% return
  • The initiative has saved nearly $5 Million in taxpayer dollars

“Albuquerque Heading Home is truly an inspirational program. For all who have witnessed the amazing stories of our participants, it’s awesome to see,” said Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry. “This latest financial impact study further illustrates that we addressing chronic homelessness in a smart way for both those experiencing homelessness and for the taxpayer.”

Heading Home Housing Director Jodie Jepson emphasized that critical partnerships and generous volunteers who have created this level of social change, “We’re so honored to have our valuable partners with us today, to celebrate the impact that we’re having on our community- we’re literally changing lives and bringing hope to people who thought they were lost, forgotten and invisible.”

View the full 2016 Albuquerque Heading Home Cost Study

View the 2016 Report in Brief

The short film is available to be shared via the Albuquerque Heading Home’s website, YouTube, facebook page and twitter site.    #HomesSave

Heading Home is a 501 c 3 that runs several initiatives- Albuquerque Heading Home, Vets Heading Home, Keeping Families Together and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center which includes a men’s shelter, respite and Veteran transitional housing.  Collectively these programs have transitioned more than 1,800 individuals and their family members into housing.




by Breanna Anderson

Proceeds from Heading Home’s “¢hange a Life” Receptacle to Benefit People Helped by APD’s COAST

Albuquerque- Albuquerque Sunport travelers have given more than $8,000 to help “¢hange a Life” by donating their loose change to the Albuquerque Heading Home initiative. The “¢hange a Life” receptacle, which is located near the security line, prior to the TSA checkpoint has been collecting donations from generous travelers since December 2015.  Every month Albuquerque Heading Home gathers the proceeds and shares the contributions with their partner agencies and draws the name of the partner agency that will receive the next month’s gifts.

Change collected throughout the month of August will be going to APD’s COAST team. Sunport travelers charitably donated $930.00. All of the money was then used to purchase motel vouchers and grocery store gift cards for COAST.

Today Heading Home Housing Director Jodie Jepson, who coordinates the housing for Albuquerque Heading Home clients, presented Chief Gorden Eden Jr. with the vouchers and gift cards.

“The partnership between APD and Heading Home is key to helping provide resources to homeless members of our community and is a critical step in helping them find stability,” said Chief Eden. “Today’s donations will provide hotel stays to families who are struggling to get back on their feet and assist them with much needed day to day necessities.”

“At Heading Home, we know that we can have the greatest impact when we combine our efforts with our partners. The “¢hange a life” campaign is a great example of how we as partnership agencies are truly able to positively impact the lives of our current and future clients,” said Jepson.

Prior to her role as a Housing Director, Jepson was member of COAST, on a daily basis she was doing outreach to members of the community who were experiencing homelessness. “Despite limited resources, COAST provides vital services to those in crisis across our city. We are honored to partner with APD/COAST and to support their efforts.”

With Balloon Fiesta right around the corner, people traveling through the Sunport can donate to the “¢hange a Life” when they are catching a flight out of Albuquerque.

Hashtag: #ChangeALife

Heading Home is a 501 c 3 that runs several initiatives- Albuquerque Heading Home, Vets Heading Home, Keeping Families Together and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center which includes a men’s shelter, respite and Veteran transitional housing.  Collectively these programs have transitioned more than 2,000 individuals and their family members into housing.


by Breanna Anderson

Albuquerque Journal: Home Team helps ‘neighbors’ get ahead

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — She admits she hasn’t always made the best choices, though why is something she has never figured out.

“I don’t know why this happened to me,” Paula Bogacz-Hetzel says of a life that would kill the spirit of lesser women. “I did something wrong.”

Not that it matters so much anymore. At 66, Bogacz-Hetzel is more at peace with her choices and what remains of her life than she has been in years. After struggling with homelessness, hurt, mistakes and ill health, she is finally feeling at home with herself.

Because she is home.  Read more at the Albuquerque Journal.

by Breanna Anderson

Join The Home Team Program!


The Home Team develops teams of volunteers to create social support systems for our neighbors as they move from living on the streets to homes.  The program’s mission is to lovingly support our neighbors as they transition into housing.  Support can range from the practical (helping transport to medical appointments) to relational (going out for a cup of coffee).  The ultimate goal is to develop strong relationships and build stronger communities and neighborhoods to achieve our vision that homelessness is rare, short-lived and nonrecurring.

For more information, contact, Kristy Anderson (505) 226-1700 ext. 208 or


The mission of the program is to lovingly support our neighbors’ transition into housing.


  • Trust – We build trusting relationships with our neighbors.
  • Support – We support our neighbors’ transition into housing.
  • Patience – We sensitive to our neighbor’s needs and meet them where they are.
  • Relationships – We build relationships with our neighbors to build community.
  • Respect – We respect our neighbors as we would like to be respected.


  • Volunteer teams are asked to engage in a meaningful relationship with their neighbor for 12 months.
  • This involves six hours of training to establish boundaries and confidentiality, relationship building and team coordination/dynamics.
  • Every month following (2 hours minimum avg. per month).


  • Create healthy relationships to help our neighbors’ transition into housing.
  • Ultimately, better neighborhoods build better communities.


by Megan

Albuquerque Heading Home Initiative Celebrates Five Years & More Than 500 People Housed

ALBUQUERQUE, NM- What started as an idea has now grown into a life-changing, money-saving initiative that has garnered national attention. Today, the Albuquerque Heading Home [AHH] initiative, surrounded by partners, founders and champions, celebrated its fifth anniversary. The not-for-profit initiative also announced the accomplishment of housing 524 individuals and their family members, who had been chronically homeless and are medically vulnerable.

“When I started this initiative my first year in office, we told the community that this was the ‘Smart Way to do the Right Thing’. Albuquerque has since emerged as a national leader in a critical area where every city has its challenges,” Mayor Richard J. Berry said. “I want to congratulate all of our partners and the city for embracing this difficult issue and really making a difference in people’s lives.”

Heading Home runs the administrative side of the AHH initiative. Heading Home’s CEO, Dennis Plummer, recognized the need for support from every layer of the community, saying “Our Mayor, Richard J. Berry, created and carried this initiative by giving it unstoppable momentum to grow into the data-driven, innovative program that it is today. But, this program is also special because it’s a collective-impact initiative that only works because it has every level of engagement from government leaders to social service partners.”

The AHH partners consist of: The Mayor’s Office, Albuquerque’s Family & Community Services Department, APD’s COAST unit, Heading Home, Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, Saint Martin’s Hospitality Center, Therapeutic Living Services, Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico, UNM’s Project ECHO, The Rock at NoonDay, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, and First Nations Community Health Source. Together, the partner agencies provide support services, case management, resources, advocacy, job training, networking, and more to the AHH clients. This level of support equates to an outstanding 94% retention rate for clients after one year with AHH.

Critical to the vitality of the non-profit’s success are the AHH sponsors. The 2015 top supporters include: The McCune Charitable Foundation, United Healthcare, Sandia National Laboratories/ Lockheed Martin, The Banner Foundation, Marion & David Bundy Foundation and Nusenda Credit Union.

Today’s anniversary festivities included aerial photos of all the AHH partners, as well as the launch of a social media campaign that challenges people to #EndHomelessness. Mayor Berry as well as Miss New Mexico, Marissa Livingston, and other influential leaders committed to being a ‘cool aide to end homelessness’, by dying their hands green (the color of AHH’s logo and because the program saves green/money), writing #EndHomelessness on their palms and then tagging other friends, colleagues and family members to encourage them to do the same. The open green hands also represent the fact that AHH is turning five. If individuals who receive the challenge don’t want to dye their hands, they can make a donation to AHH by visiting and clicking on the “donate” button.

Heading Home is a 501 c 3 that runs several initiatives- Albuquerque Heading Home, Vets Heading Home, Keeping Families Together and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center which includes a men’s shelter, respite and Veteran transitional housing. For more information about Albuquerque Heading Home visit for more information about Heading Home visit


by Breanna Anderson

City Continues Efforts to Provide Shelter During Recent Storm

Dec. 28, 2015

Albuquerque, NM – Mayor Richard J. Berry and the Family and Community Services Department want to remind individuals that during the cold nights the best way to help someone who is experiencing homelessness and is unsheltered is to contact 311 or 242-COPS.

The City’s emergency winter shelter has been opened since November 11, 2015 and is scheduled to shut down for the season on March 15, 2016. People needing shelter may go to the Albuquerque Rescue Mission located at 525 2nd Street SW by 8 pm nightly.

The Rescue Mission emergency van will pick up those in need of shelter even if it is not on the Central Avenue route by calling the Rescue Mission at 346-4673 ext. 114 from 3 pm – 8 pm & 346-4673 ext. 122 after 8 pm.

For more information about information on homeless services available in the City, including the emergency winter shelter information please visit or call 311, TTY 711.

Click for Winter Shelter Schedule –> WINTERSHELTERFLYER2016


by Breanna Anderson

Heading Home Launches “Holiday of Hope”

Heading Home is in need of families and community-minded groups to support newly housed families and individuals during the holiday season. We’re calling this our “Gift a Family” effort. You can make the holidays just a little brighter for someone, with a gift as simple as a pair of socks:

A couple of days ago, as the weather started turning, Jason came to our door asking if we had a pair of socks for him. Jason suffers from diabetes and having dry, clean socks is so very important in dealing with his condition. Just one pare of socks can make a huge difference for someone!

Be a part of making the holidays a happy time for one of our families or individuals.

To Gift a Family or Individual-Holiday of Hope Sponsor Info

by Breanna Anderson

Albuquerque Heading Home Garners Support from Philanthropic Student Group

After Heading Home CEO Dennis Plummer presented at a Community Builder‘s workshop, one of the students gave a very complimentary speech about the all the presenters and their respective non-profit organizations.

Thank you Marcos for letting us share this wonderfully written piece with our supporters, keep up the good work with the Community Builders! AND thanks to Sue Rzendzian for inviting our CEO to present.

Click here to read Marcos’ speech


by Breanna Anderson

National Suit Drive to Benefit Non-Profit, Heading Home


Heading Home and Men’s Wearhouse Challenge New Mexico Residents to Help Donate 250K Clothing Items This Year for a Collective ONE MILLION Donations

 Albuquerque, NM – Heading Home, a New Mexico non-profit that seeks to make experiences of homelessness rare, short-lived and non-recurring, is partnering with Men’s Wearhouse to launch its eighth annual National Suit Drive, a six-week initiative that collects donations of gently-used professional attire for unemployed Americans. Clothing collected at the New Mexico Men’s Wearhouse stores through July 31st, as a result of the drive, will be distributed to residents at Heading Home’s emergency men’s shelter, known as the Albuquerque Opportunity Center campus. Across the United States, more than 180 local nonprofit organizations that provide job-ready skills, training and seminars to disadvantaged men and women entering or re-entering the workforce will also receive clothing items.

“We want to make experiences of homelessness rare, to accomplish that mission we run resume writing workshops, operate a computer lab, and help transition hundreds of men into housing ever year. But it is just as important that these men look presentable and exude confidence during their job interview,” said Joell Ackerman, Chief Operations Officer of Heading Home. “This is the third year we’ve teamed up with the Men’s Wearhouse for the National Suit Drive and every year it’s amazing to see how a suit can position our clients for success and be such an encouraging gift.”

As part of this year’s National Suit Drive, Men’s Wearhouse is issuing a challenge to consumers across the country to meet or exceed the goal of 250,000 donated items. Over the past seven years, the National Suit Drive has collected approximately 850,000 professional clothing donations, and this year marks the opportunity to break the one million donation mark.

Now residents of New Mexico can donate their gently-used professional clothing, including men’s and women’s suits, ties, jackets, shirts, pants, belts and shoes, at any of the four New Mexico Men’s Wearhouse locations. As a thank you, donors will receive 50 percent off the regular retail price of their next purchase from Men’s Wearhouse (excluding shoes, clearance and Exceptional Value items).

“A suit is more than just about how you look – it’s about how you feel, and it’s important to feel your absolute best during a job interview,” said Doug Ewert, CEO of The Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. “The National Suit Drive gives men looking to re-enter the workforce a chance at a new beginning. Through this annual campaign, we’ve had an opportunity to truly make a difference in people’s lives, and we’re excited at the potential of reaching one million donations this year.”

This year, the National Suit Drive is partnering with DeMarco Murray, the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, to help spread the word. “Whether ‘suiting up’ on the field or off, I’ve felt first-hand the confidence a suit provides and how it helps you perform at your personal best,” said Murray. “I’m thrilled to be partnering with the National Suit Drive to give other men throughout the nation the ability to recognize their dreams – and achieve them.”


To help spread the word about this year’s National Suit Drive, Men’s Wearhouse is encouraging people to share the #giveasuit post found on their Facebook page. For every share, the company will donate $1 (up to $25,000) to the local nonprofits they have partnered with.

For more information, visit the National Suit Drive website at

About Heading Home

Heading Home is the backbone organization for several impactful community programs: the Albuquerque Heading Home Initiative, Vets Heading Home, Keeping Families Together and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center campus. Collectively these programs have transitioned more than 1,500 people into housing since 2011.

About Men’s Wearhouse

Founded in 1973, Men’s Wearhouse is one of North America’s largest specialty retailers of men’s apparel with 1,758 stores.  The Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, Moores and K&G stores carry a full selection of suits, sport coats, furnishings and accessories in exclusive and non-exclusive merchandise brands and Men’s Wearhouse and Tux stores carry a limited selection.  Most K&G stores carry a full selection of women’s apparel.  Tuxedo rentals are available in the Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, Moores and Men’s Wearhouse and Tux stores.  Additionally, Men’s Wearhouse operates a global corporate apparel and workwear group consisting of Twin Hill in the United States and Dimensions, Alexandra and Yaffy in the United Kingdom.  For additional information on Men’s Wearhouse, please visit the Company’s websites at,,,,,, and

by Breanna Anderson

Heading Home Welcomes Changes to Board of Directors

Vast blend of bi-partisan perspectives expected to continue inspiring Heading Home’s ambitious mission

 ALBUQUERQUE, NM- Over the past four years Heading Home’s programs have collectively transitioned more than 1,500 individuals experiencing homelessness and their family members into housing. The dynamic and well-informed leadership from Heading Home’s Board of Directors fuels this progress and inspires meaningful and measurable outcomes.

Heading Home is a New Mexico non-profit that seeks to make experiences of homelessness rare, short-lived and non-recurring. Through the Heading Home programs (Albuquerque Heading Home, Vets Heading Home, Keeping Families Together and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center), Heading Home is not only able to save the lives of those who’ve been suffering on the streets, but also to save money and resources. An independent study showed that it is 30% cheaper to house someone than it is to leave them living off the streets, utilizing public safety and medical resources.

At the June Board of Director’s meeting the board voted to elect a new Executive Committee including a new board president and director-at-large. Robin Dozier Otten is taking the reigns as the board president. Otten comes with an impressive set of vast and varied work experiences. Currently the owner and founder of a consulting company, she has also served the public as a cabinet secretary with Governor Gary Johnson and the Director of Family and Community Services for Mayor Richard J. Berry, where Otten and the Mayor helped launch Albuquerque Heading Home in 2011. As a lawyer, she founded the law firm of Otten, Vogel and Campbell in Albuquerque. Otten has served on the Heading Home board since 2014.

Ian Esquibel is now director-at-large. Esquibel joined the board in 2014. Much of Esquibel’s work history has been within the non-profit sector, from education to social services, he’s dedicated his life to advancing the quality of life for New Mexicans. He is currently the executive director for the Learning Alliance of New Mexico, a non-profit that seeks to fill-in the education gap between what employers need and students want.

The Heading Home board consists of nine respected professional individuals, all of whom carry unique perspectives: attorney, small business owner, faith leader, community advocate, non-profit leader, realtor, health professional, retired banker, technologist, and an accountant. Executive Committee members who will continue in their current roles include Vice President Sandi Hazlett; Treasurer Ray Ziler and Secretary Shirley Rich.

“We’re so thankful for the wide mix of professional and personal insights donated by our board members. They are amazing ambassadors of our programs and generous philanthropists with their time and investments,” said CEO Dennis R. Plummer.

For more information about Albuquerque Heading Home visit Heading Home’s website is currently under construction. The organization plans on revealing their new website that will profile all their programs and initiatives in August 2015.



by Breanna Anderson

$25,000 Grant Will Help Make Homelessness Rare

UnitedHealthcare Gives a Big Check to a Big Cause in Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, NM- Today UnitedHealthcare, provided Heading Home a check for $25,000. Heading Home is a New Mexico non-profit that runs a variety of initiatives, all dedicated to making homelessness rare, short-lived and non-recurring. The grant funding will go towards helping individuals who are the most prone to dying on our streets, like Albuquerque Heading Home client “Buck”. Tragically, Buck had been in a construction accident which rendered him disabled as he suffered from the results of a Traumatic Brain Injury. In 2012 Buck was housed, he now volunteers at the La Montanita Co-op, is helping with Heading Home’s renovation, is an avid gardener, and he can often be seen riding his bike around downtown Albuquerque. To see Buck’s full story visit  

The Albuquerque Heading Home initiative is saving and changing lives while also saving money. An independent study of the initiative showed that it is more than 30% cheaper to house someone than it is to leave them homeless. The initiative has also been recognized as best practices model and has garnered international attention for its success and measurable impact on the community. Together with Heading Home’s additional programs like Vets Heading Home and Keeping Families Together, 457 people and their families have been housed. Over the past year through the Albuquerque Opportunity Center campus almost 800 men were provided with a warm place to sleep and shelter through the night.

Individuals housed through all the Heading Home programs fall into three different categories of vulnerability: people who are medically vulnerable and chronically homeless, veterans who are ineligible for their service-related benefits or families who could have their children taken away due to unstable housing.

“Homelessness is a community issue; as such it takes a community to solve it. With partners like United Healthcare we’re confident we can make an impact in our city that will span decades to come,” said Heading Home CEO Dennis R. Plummer.

For more information about Albuquerque Heading Home visit Heading Home’s website is currently under construction- the organization plans on revealing their new website that will profile all their programs and initiatives in early July 2015.



by Breanna Anderson