ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some downtown Albuquerque residents are asking the city for help after a group of homeless people moved in and set up an encampment right next to their homes off 7th Street near Lomas Blvd. Neighbors say their problem began two weeks ago when one homeless person moved into a residential alleyway between Marble Avenue and Granite Avenue.

“I honestly didn’t know this alley existed until I started seeing them wandering in and out,” said Damian Montoya whose home is on 7th street near the encampment. Montoya says the alleyway is perfectly tucked away for anyone looking to set up camp… and for the past two weeks, neighbors say what started as a single person living there, has now quickly grown. “There was one and then there were three and the last time I counted I think it’s up to nine people that are living back there,” Montoya said.

According to Montoya, he’s been told residents are responsible for keeping the alleyway clear, but as their newfound problem grows… Montoya says they need help. Hoping to address the problem, Montoya and other neighbors say they’ve reached out to the city, but to no avail. “I called 911 and everybody else has been calling 311, 242 cops and nothing has happened,” said Montoya. Montoya says at one point he even tried taking matters into his own hands by confronting one of the men living in the alleyway. “When any neighbor confronts them about getting out of the alley they threaten you. A guy brandished a knife when I asked him to leave the premises,” said Montoya.

Montoya says he did call the police about the incident, but says he was told unless this was a life-or-death situation, the Albuquerque Police Department wouldn’t send out an officer. Now, Montoya and neighbors say they’re concerned about living with the encampment so close to their homes. They say they hope something can be done about the growing problem. “It just seems like the homeless problem gets worse and worse every year, it’s a mental health issue but they need to provide these people with some sort of service to get them out of whatever situation they’re in, but being in a residential street is not cool,” Montoya said.

Montoya says he’s also seen people living in the encampment dealing drugs, he says he hopes the city will clear out and block off the area to prevent any future encampments from popping up. KRQE News 13 has reached out to the city for comment. APD says in situations like these, unless the people are trespassing all they can do is ask them to leave.