ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – People see homeless camps downtown and on the east side of Albuquerque, but not often on the westside.
One just popped up in a very visible spot near a very busy intersection on the westside, but the city dealt with it quickly.
Neighbors and businesses say they’re noticing more and more homeless in their neighborhoods, including panhandlers by the interstate, and most recently, a large camp set up in front of the wall of a local apartment complex along busy Coors and Montano.
“Having them under a tent like that, that seems pretty sad for our town, you know?” said Nicholeus Olguin of Albuquerque.
In a post on a neighborhood watch page, people are claiming the homeless in the area are leaving behind drug needles and boosting crime at the nearby drug stores, which they say is keeping them from shopping there.
“We do have folks that are experiencing homelessness that are choosing not to go to shelter, and sometimes that’s because of mental illness or past trauma,” the mayor’s Director of Housing and Homelessness, Lisa Huval, said.
Her department is not seeing a spike in the number of homeless on the west side of the city, which they track based on 311 complaints, but Huval said there are efforts to help.
“[We’re] engaging folks, trying to connect them to services,” she added.
People say the new $14 million homeless shelter approved by voters this month should help.
As for the westside camp, solid waste crews cleaned it up after KRQE News 13’s call to the city about it on Friday.
Family and Community Services said when a homeless camp is reported to the city’s 311 system, it can take up to seven days to get it cleaned up.
Huval said at last count, the number of homeless in the city is around 1,500, up 200 over the past couple years.