ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque neighborhood is at its wits end. They say a homeless camp has been there for years.
“The dumping grounds, the trash, it’s just out of control,” said Monica Salazar who lives off 20th Street, nearby a homeless camp.
Salazar is one of many residents in the Sawmill Village that has had enough of the camp butting up to their homes, leaving behind trash, soiled clothing and unclean living conditions.
“It’s an environmental issue, it’s a public health issue, it’s a safety issue,” said Consuelo Pacheco, another resident on 20th Street.
She said they’ve had issues with the camp for a long time, “at least five years”. And the camp continues to grow.
Salazar said the homeless residents get to their camp, which runs along a bike path between the Sawmill neighborhood and Interstate 40, through holes in fences.
“We need to clean it up, and then we need to find a place for these people to be,” said Salazar.
She said there have also been several large fires started by the residents at the camp making to stay warm.
“They started a fire, the fire got out of hand and got out of control and they had to put it out.”
Salazar said she and other concerned neighbors have tried getting help.
“The police department has come, I’ve talked to the mayor’s office, we’ve talked to the city council,” she said.
But neighbors say they’re still dealing with mounds of trash, rodents, and soiled clothing strewn across the bike path.
“Whose property is this? That’s what I would like to know because I don’t know, no one knows,” said Salazar.
A spokesperson for the city said they’re still trying to determine who’s property the homeless people are residing on. They said it could be state owned or it belongs to the Rio Grande Conservancy. The city spokesperson said it’s not city property.
“Really, it’s a sad commentary on the state of our society,” said Pacheco, who’s family has lived in Old Town for over 35 years. “We would get together as neighbors and we would cleanup this area that is so full of dump.”
But Pacheco said they gave up, she feels this is an even bigger issue. “I just feel badly that we keep shuffling people that have no homes from one agency to another, there needs to be a systemic solution to a systemic problem.”
The city spokesperson said they are working with the Albuquerque Police Department to set up a time next week to give the camp residents a second notice to vacate.