ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque is just over a week away from a major shift that will limit how the City can clear out some homeless camps. Now, Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn is pushing for a new approach to keep camps from springing up in places the City doesn’t want them.
“We do not have enough alternatives for folks that are experiencing homelessness,” said Councilor Fiebelkorn.
Starting November 1, Albuquerque police will only be allowed to clear homeless camps on school grounds or if they’re blocking sidewalks, driveways, and alleys.
“We saw, with Coronado Park Downtown, what can happen to a park when we have unchecked, numbers of people living in it, and I don’t think we want to repeat that in any of our other parks,” Councilor Fiebelkorn explained.
Fiebelkorn is now calling for new rules on city-sanctioned camps under the “Safe Outdoor Spaces” program. As of now, the City has a long appeals process for people who oppose Safe Outdoor Spaces. Fiebelkorn now wants to reduce who can appeal those applications.
“We just don’t have two years to work around these permit application processes and all the appeals,” Fiebelkorn said. “We need to act now if we’re going to, one, comply with the judge’s order, and two, save our actual public open space.”
In a new resolution, Fiebelkorn is also calling for a cap on Safe Outdoor Spaces to just two per council district. Additionally, she’s asking for the City to get involved in running as many as three Safe Outdoor Spaces within 45 days of the bill being passed.
“This is going to get worse if we don’t find ways to comply with the judge’s orders,” Fiebelkorn added.
Councilors could vote on the resolution as early as November 18. The resolution also asks the City to find and report how many beds are needed for the unhoused and come up with a plan on how to provide those beds as quickly as possible.
In a statement from the City, they told News 13, “Safe Outdoor Spaces could be a way to connect more people to services and safe shelter. We will continue to explore ways to expand our system of care and serve the greatest number of people on our streets, and will follow this resolution as it moves through City Council.”