ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Homeless encampments can be found throughout various areas of Albuquerque. Now Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller wants to create designated spots for those tent cities. The mayor’s office hopes consolidating the camps will make the city safer and make it easier to provide resources to the homeless and help get them off the street.
“We’ve all seen tents and people just scattered throughout the city which is not effective for anybody. Some people are on sidewalks with all of their things sometimes spilling onto the street,” said Albuquerque’s Deputy Director for Homeless Solutions, Dr. Elizabeth Holguin. She says with focused areas for homeless people to set up it would be a more effective and safer solution for outreach workers to lend a hand.
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“We’re having to park and walk up embankments and down under tunnels and this and that and that takes a lot of time. If we could just go to one site at a time and walk all of the tents very quickly we could get people hooked up to resources right away,” said Holguin.
Those sites which the city has not decided on yet would be located in vacant lots near organizations that work to help the homeless and agree to be part of the program. “We have to meet people where they are at and sometimes people have different needs and different steps on their journey.”
The lots would accommodate about 40 people. “There are port-a-potties or other types of toilets, sometimes showers and hand washing stations available,” Holguin said.
The deputy director adds that there would be security and rules for the camps and if people violate the rules would be evicted. “All drugs and alcohol, no fire setting, no littering, no violence things like that are just sort of general rules that we live by,” said Holguin.
The $950,000 proposal also calls for designating vacant parking lots for people who live in their cars. This plan is part of the mayor’s proposed budget. If approved by the council, the people could start living in those encampment lots later this year. The city says it’s also looking at providing storage for the homeless population.