ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — From divorced families, kids and people overcoming substance abuse, as many as 3,000 patients get help at Samaritan Counseling. The center is a resource for low-income families as well as victims and defendants in pretrial services.
In less than two weeks, however, patients will be forced to find a new counselor or get no help. Samaritan Counseling is preparing to shut down due to a lack of funds. Interim President and CEO John Grassham said Samaritan Counseling has served Albuquerque for nearly three decades.
"Mental health, that’s often left out of the formula," Grassham said. "There might be some lip service to it, but at the end of the day, this is the place. Places like Samaritan are places for people to come for service for drug addiction or anger management or whatever they face in their lives."
Grassham said their 20 counselors have helped families going through divorce and addicts overcome substance abuse.
"Those who have experienced violence, some really difficult cases," Grassham said. "People who are in need of these services."
The nonprofit runs on donations, which have recently declined.
"Fundraising has diminished," Grassham said. "There are so many needs and mental health is often the last thing that people are thinking of when we know and we see the city in great need."
KOB-TV requested an interview with Bernalillo County pretrial services. At this time, a spokesperson said they are not commenting on pending possible litigation involving Samaritan.
The two remaining mayoral candidates did weigh in on the center:
I will work with Samaritan immediately and get the resources they need. Mental health issues are one of the many problems fueling the crime that plagues our city. As Mayor I will ensure that we double down on programs that address mental health concerns, addiction and homelessness, providing more resources for city facilities, as well as for groups such as Albuquerque Heading Home so that they can better serve those in need.
— Dan Lewis
"As mayor I will step up and own the challenges we face by taking responsibility for the solutions. We must end the cycle of excuse-making by prioritizing mental and behavioral health services as part of an overall plan for public safety. We will step up like most cities in America, and will partner with the county, to create a city diversion and treatment center to provide facilities and programs for mandatory addiction treatment instead of incarceration, and transitional treatment for prisoner reintegration."
— Tim Keller