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Las Cruces 4/8 Echo

Participants: Andrew, Barbara, Loren, Melissa Ontiveros, Rose Garcia

RG: Part of a non-profit organization that works to build affordable housing and expanding/building out small businesses (Tierra Del Sol). Many small businesses and housing construction are struggling because of the pandemic. Tierra Del Sol specializes in some of those areas. We build housing in many of the smaller cities, as well as Las Cruces and larger cities. In Multi-family, we build several facilities that are subsidized for migrant workers. We have about 400 units with 4-5 people in each apartment. Lots of the farmers and agricultural workers live in those apartments. NM gets a lot of money in GRT from farm workers. Our interest is those farmers who work in the field. We had to get legal aid to get them water because they weren’t able to wash their hands while they were working. Since August, we haven’t been able to get public clinics to run COVID testing. Two of the clinics contacted me, and they’ve both offered to have open-door testing. Now they’re opening up the different clinics to provide the vaccines. Several of the farm workers’ families have come forward. They don’t have to jump through as many hoops. A private clinic opened up yesterday (physician’s vascular clinic in Las Cruces) - anyone who doesn’t have a vaccine can get one until they’re finished. We’re really pleased that more recent offerings have come through. The DOH has been a nightmare to get through registration. We’re lucky that a sister-in-law works for the DOH and has been running interference to get people appointments. It’s been tough to get people appointments. Most people in the county don’t have computers and it’s tough for them to get registered. That system needs to be improved. The Lt Governor’s office should have set up some 24 hour clinics. A lot of the workforce is busy at all hours. We’ve lost several dairy workers because they don’t have access, or are afraid to go through the process. Mayor Herrera had mentioned that it would be helpful to have the vaccines distributed through fire stations since there is one in every county. There are these organizations that get relief money, but they’re tripping over each other trying to get the money out, but this could all be done through the community centers. People are trying to get relief funds, but we can’t be doing it online. There have been too many regulations added. There are several clients who aren’t able to pay their water or sewer bills. The utility companies will work with the counties to underwrite the service, but it’s tough to do that outreach through the cell phone. People work after 5, so one-time calls aren’t enough.



  • RG: Las Cruces just opened up a new hospital. My son got the contract to do the computer systems for the hospital. It’s a community hospital that’s smaller than the other two, but it’s good added value and a great location. The same developer is interested in building another private hospital in Las Cruces. Private investors from TN.

    • BW: We’ve had some issues with the private TN hospitals because they’re quick on collecting medical debt, but we’ve gotten some good legislation to prevent that.

  • RG: Lots of changes happening in the health industry, doctors fees are changing. Behavioral health is one of the biggest issues in rural NM, especially southern.

    • BW: Behavioral Health is definitely an area where we’re expanding.

  • RG: I’d like to see behavioral health expand, in order to mitigate some of the prices of other health services and prevention. Initially we heard from some communities that older adults and those at home who were isolated before were at risk. People have been working to get them included, but now we’re looking at how to get them safely reintroduced in a way that supports them. There’s a big need for churches and other community groups.

  • BW: The public charge rule has been basically rescinded, but there needs to be an educational campaign from trusted messengers to reach them.

  • MO: I work with the community action agency. Also serve with several other coalitions. There are a lot of people who are struggling with mental health, so we need to improve access and availability of those wraparound services. My biggest concerns are housing, behavioral health, and broadband. Hopefully we can get those services up and running.

  • BW: In the legislature, there was a lot more focus on rural issues. We’re trying to get as much grassroots involvement as possible. It’s heartening to see this focus. In the South, there’s been a lot more election of people who are progressive on these issues. Don’t know if we have direct connections in SF, but we haven’t taken that on.

  • MO: Working to get in touch with Jeff up in SF to get this implemented.

  • BW: In the interim committees, we have to work to make sure that we get vaccinations out before another spread.

  • RG: Presbyterian has been doing a good job of making announcements/logistics and getting out flyers. You can do a lot of good work if you get messages out to apartments and other vulnerable groups.

  • BW: The session was chaotic and confusing, but at the same time, we had a good impact on the bills that we’re trying to get passed.

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery