ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque says the largest encampment in the city, Coronado Park, is sprawling with tents and homeless individuals. Crews were clearing it out and cleaning it up, just so the homeless campers could move right back in.
“The main point in cleaning it out is it’s a public health hazard if we continue to leave that trash in the park and sit. So, the goal is to strike a balance between public safety and compassion in having these people have a place to stay,” said Family and Community Services Public Outreach Program Manager, Rob Garnand.
The Family and Community Services Department says cleaning up Coronado Park is a priority in order to prevent disease and outbreaks as well as to provide some level of hygiene to people living in the encampment. While camping in parks is illegal, the city is not writing citations as they do from time to time in other parks around town. Instead, they’re focusing on providing people living in the encampment with resources. However, the city’s says the problem is most people don’t accept the help. So whenever the encampment is cleared, the people return with their tents.
“We notify them of shelter spaces and the response that we get a lot of times is that they don’t want to go to the shelter so that’s kind of the situation we are in right now in the city. They list different reasons, they tend to throw back on us a lot, have you ever stayed in a shelter?” said Garnand.
The city says they are doing the best they can to keep the area clean. The city is also working on a plan to designate empty lots around town as places for encampments. Those lots would have to be next to nonprofits that help the homeless. They would have bathrooms and security and they would not be allowed next to parks or within 300 feet of residential neighborhoods.