ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque man is asking for help after a series of bonfires in the alley behind his house. He claims it’s an issue with the homeless that often stay back there and now, he’s calling on the City.
A few feet from his backyard, Chad McCollam can see piles of trash and feces. “Makes me feel kind of dirty you know it’s just kind of disappointing,” said McCollam. He first moved into the home near I-25 and Central in February, an area he sees as up and coming. Until the weather started to warm up.
“That’s when I started to find needles in my flower bed, empty booze bottles, discarded underwear,” said McCollam. In the alley it gets even worse, he says it’s become a camping ground for the homeless.
“Once we started kind of walking down the alley that’s when we discovered the human waste, tons and tons of needles,” said McCollam. McCollam is sympathetic that they have nowhere to go but the issue is what they are doing, not them being there.
“And then we started to have a couple of bonfires, there’s been two bonfires in the last four weeks,” said McCollam. The last bonfire happened around two in the morning, waking McCollam and filling his bedroom with smoke before Albuquerque Fire Rescue came to put it out.
“I saw the lights and I came outside and actually saw what was going on,” said McCollam. From bonfires and discarded needles to an RV toilet left in plain sight. The only help he has comes from a security guard at the Lovelace Clinic next door, but he wants the Albuquerque Police Department to step in.
“I’ve called the non-emergency number every time and they ask if I’d like somebody to stop by and talk to me and I say yes every time but nobody has ever stopped by,” said McCollam. With all the growth in the area, he hoped it would be more than a superficial fix.
“We’re gentrifying a neighborhood but we are forgetting about the back alleys these people are paying a lot of rent here, I am paying a lot of money to live here and we can’t walk our dogs down the alley because they are going to pick up a needle,” said McCollam.
KRQE News 13 spoke to APD, they chose to not sit down with us. They sent us this statement instead;
“Our Solid Waste Clean City Team and Sharps Program are getting this cleaned up, and we want residents to know that resources to deal with this kind of issue are just a phone call away at 311. When there is criminal activity APD is also here to work closely with residents to help. We are taking steps to address the underlying issues that cause this—the Albuquerque Community Safety Department, direct outreach to unhoused people to get them into services at the Gateway Center, and other investments are finally focusing resources on challenges that had been overlooked for decades.”