Retired law enforcement officer now working to fight homelessness

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – He served the State of New Mexico as a law enforcement officer for more than 20 years. Now, he’s using his retirement to combat a problem he saw frequently on the streets: homelessness.

Xavier Aguilar has done something pretty selfless — opening up his own home and two more homes in Sandoval County to help people restart their lives.

Highway 528 is one of the busiest roads in Rio Rancho, and it’s where Aguilar said he’s connected with many people.

“This is where you find a lot of your homeless at. I do a lot of scouting around McDonald’s I see somebody that looks like they have a need, buy them something to eat and chat with them for a little bit,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar worked in local law enforcement for 23 years. He said he spent most of his time in narcotics and knows how it’s a problem that plagues the homeless community.

“I saw that there is such a big demand for a lot of these men and women, destroyed many families and there is really not much being offered to them,” Aguilar said.

He retired from the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office three years ago this month but left the force with the itch to continue serving.

“They’re reaching out to me and I’m taking a chance on them,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar founded One Day at a Time Ministry, a year-long program designed for homeless, recovering addicts and those recently released from jail.

“If they don’t have a plan or a home to go to, they’re not going to make it,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar has opened up his own home, along with two other properties at undisclosed locations for them to stay. While in the program, the participants must stay sober and are randomly drug tested. Aguilar said they also have to maintain a steady job.

“We got four or five different churches through Rio Rancho and Sandoval County that offer us jobs. Basically yard work, landscaping, whatever it is,” Aguilar said.

He’s even opened a thrift shop to help fund the ministry.

“That’s basically where the women maintain their employment there from Wednesday through Saturday,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar hopes his effort will encourage others to open their hearts, and maybe even their homes.

“If you don’t give a person an opportunity. A second a third a fourth chance you don’t know what you’re going to get out of it,” Aguilar said.

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