Albuquerque homeless center causing problems for businesses

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- From all-out fights, to drug deals being handled right on the sidewalk; businesses near St. Martin’s Hospitality Center on 3rd Street, have seen it all.

“We are just in lock down all the time,” said Bess Raines, who owns the Professional Equipment Repair across the street from the day center for homeless people.

Raines said the problems are never ending, “We can’t leave our doors open, we can’t turn our backs on anything, vandalism, theft, intimidation by some of the clients coming from St. Martin’s.”

She and other businesses in the area like Lilly Barrack said the homeless people will camp out in front of their businesses forcing them to buy gates. So Thursday, St. Martin’s staff held a meeting.

“They were willing to say what can we do to remedy and relieve some of the issues at hand,” Raines said at least 10 businesses nearby came to speak at the meeting. “They were fully engaged, did we disagree on some of the issues, and maybe how to solve them? Yes we did.”

But she said in the end it was all positive.

An Albuquerque police commander and lieutenant were also at the meeting addressing concerns and discussing what they’ve been doing to help.

“We don’t want to arrest our way out of this problem, we want to find a solution that will last,” said Celina Espinoza, with the Albuquerque Police Department.

She said the complaints have led to increased police patrols in the area.

“If they’re bothersome or they’re being aggressive in any way, we can go in and ask them to move along,” said Espinoza.

The Mayor’s Office said studies prove the homeless population in the city has gone down, but it’s gone up near St. Martin’s.

“Different homeless shelters have moved toward this same area,” said Gilbert Montano, the Chief of Staff for the city.

But he said they are doing what they can to help businesses in the area while also helping the homeless.

“Ensuring that the businesses along those corridors were free from any kind of trespassing, illegal activities, loitering,” said Montano.

The Executive Director for St. Martins said he felt positive after the meeting and said they are willing to do what they can to help everyone coexist in this area.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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