Mayor Keller highlights evictions, need for motel vouchers during coronavirus update

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mayor Tim Keller and city officials held a press conference to provide the public with an update to the city’s coronavirus response on Wednesday.

The mayor first discussed the recently announced death of a man from Eddy County who was the first COVID-19 death in New Mexico. Mayor Keller also reminded the public that this is an important reminder to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered a temporary moratorium on evictions for those who are unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Mayor Keller wanted the public to understand that the announcement means that you must still pay rent.

The ruling means that evictions are temporarily halted for those who cannot pay their rent as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Tenants will need to provide the court with evidence of their current inability to pay their rent.

Mayor Keller stated that he’s become aware of employers running essential businesses who have asked their employees to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to work. Keller explained that is not state policy and that residents should only be tested if you are symptomatic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. If you have symptoms, call the state coronavirus health hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

Kirtland Air Force Base recently announced restrictions to the base to combat the spread of the virus.

New Mexico Gas Company announced that it will be donating $150,000 to the New Mexico Association of Food Banks. Due to the virus outbreak, food banks have had depleted resources and more individuals are seeking help.

The Social Security Administration is closed, however, telephone and online services are available.

The Public Regulation Commission approved the city’s solar direct project on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation which is one of the largest solar projects in the nation. This facility will power about half of the City of Albuquerque’s government power.

A federal piece of legislation is expected to be finalized soon that features a sick leave provision allowing employees who have been out, two-thirds compensation pay. Keller says City employees will receive 100% sick leave pay.

Mayor Keller reminded residents that the city is in need of motel vouchers for those experiencing homelessness. The One Albuquerque Fund will be setting aside $50,000 for vouchers to help provide housing.

The City of Albuquerque is reporting that they are receiving an influx of callers asking where they can volunteer. There is now an online portal where volunteers can sign up or organizations can request volunteers.

During Tuesday’s daily update, the Mayor announced major city changes including the closure of all city buildings, playgrounds, and golf courses. Starting this weekend, city buses will also switch to a Saturday schedule until further notice and Albuquerque Rapid Transit routes will stop.

The closures come the day after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham instructed residents to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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