ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Safe outdoor spaces, also known as sanctioned homeless camps, are closer to becoming a reality across the city. Already a handful of applications are awaiting approval, but the clock is ticking on the measures.
The empty lot on Menaul near I-40 is one of five locations of five proposed safe outdoor spaces, but the people pushing for the location are racing against the clock to get it approved. “Currently, whatever applications are in the works, it’s going to end up being the way the legislation is written now. Any applications that are currently in and being submitted can be processed,” said Albuquerque city councilor Brook Bassan.
Bassan says the existing five applications currently awaiting approval will have to be approved before the council’s moratorium vote on Monday. If that moratorium passes the city council, no new applications can be submitted for a year.
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A spokesperson for the city’s planning department says two completed applications are currently being considered and can take up to five business days for a decision.” Anything that is going to be applied for now if it gets approved throughout the entire process they will be allowed,” said Bassan. A vote of five city councilors is needed to approve the moratorium. Bassan says she is confident the moratorium will pass. “That means that no applications can be considered or approved or accepted for up to one year or until the integrated development ordinance gets amended again,” added Bassan.
With the possibility of the safe outdoor space on Menaul and I-40 being approved before the council’s vote on Monday. Those who live in the Historic Martineztown neighborhood say they don’t want it. “It’s going to bring a lot more crime. We are just going to keep our eyes open, and it’s going to be a constant battle with all of the trash and everything going on,” said one Martineztown resident, Gilbert Speaknan.
Bassan says overall, her support for the moratorium comes down to finding better solutions in ensuring those experiencing homelessness have somewhere to go and protecting the rights of others who may be affected by the safe outdoor spaces. Albuquerque’s Mayor, Tim Keller, is still able to veto the moratorium.