ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It appears the City of Albuquerque is having a hard time tackling homeless camps, even more so after the closure of Coronado park. In a virtual city town hall meeting, Director of Solid Waste Management Matthew Whelan said the department is experiencing a shortage of workers.

“There have been more encampments throughout the city, and we have noticed that there is more litter. We need community support, as well. We are short staff right now, and that is not an excuse as well. Our crews are out there every day, addressing all of the litter that they see whenever they are out cleaning certain areas of the city,” said Whelan.

Many residents during the virtual meeting focused their questions on the city’s solution to homelessness.

“The key is finding a way to get them into that system of help, so we do that with outreach on the street. That’s the missing link right now; there is nowhere in Albuquerque on a 24/7 basis that is a low barrier shelter that will accept someone, and that is why we have to finish the Gateway project,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.

Earlier this week, neighbors expressed their concerns about a camp at Edith and I-40, which is under the bridge. The camp had been growing ever since the closure of Coronado Park. Tuesday, the city said the encampment would be cleared within 72 hours. While that spot is now empty, the tents just moved a few feet around the corner, and many of them line the alleyway next to the bridge.

Neighbors said they are frustrated, “It wouldn’t be so bad if they wouldn’t trash everything out. They make messes. They leave needles. They leave trash; it’s just a bad situation.”

This week, the city gave a tour of the Gateway Center on Gibson and announced the overnight shelter wouldn’t be fully opening until next summer. However, they said the center is already providing services to about 400 people a day.

The mayor pledged to start zeroing in on homeless camps in parks, “One of the things that we are doing with respect to changing some of our policies around public safety and our unsheltered community is we are going park by park, but we are creating a situation of there is a park near a school, we aren’t going to allow encampments or any homeless or any drug use anywhere near there,” added Keller.