ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – If you were in downtown Albuquerque on Thursday, you saw the homeless camp to end all homeless camps. While it was just a movie shoot, it didn’t escape people that it was set up where there used to be a real homeless problem.
People who work in the area say they are used to film crews and movie sets, but this one hit close to home. Like a blast from the past, a massive homeless camp has taken over part of Fourth Street and Central in downtown Albuquerque.
“It’s surreal to see, not being able to distinguish extras from actual homeless people. It’s very bizarre,” Joel Brandon said.
Only this camp isn’t real. It’s set up for a TV or movie shoot.
“It is ironic that they made a homeless camp out of it just for the movie,” James Black said.
Back in 2014, the city booted the homeless off this same block, formerly known as the Fourth Street Mall.
“T-shirt Lab has been here for 10 years, and we remember when there was a mosaic tile over there. They had to break it all down and there was a lot of homeless activity,” Black said.
“I feel like it wasn’t appealing to some of the businesses around there, like the hotels and things for tourism,” Gabriel Jaureguiberry said.
Back then, city leaders opened the Fourth Street Mall up to traffic in a move they hoped would drive out the homeless and attract more business, but those who work downtown say that hasn’t been the case.
“I feel like it’s just another street,” Jaureguiberry said.
“It’s not necessarily a hotspot for business. It’s just like, a way to get from this part where businesses are to Civic Plaza basically,” Black said.
For now, it seems, they’re back to square one.
“It seems like it would be a slap in the face to some people,” Brandon said.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the city’s film office, but it would not reveal what is being shot there. There’s also no word on how long the set, which was set up on Wednesday, will be there.
The city’s film office says it’s issued 439 permits for film and TV shoots this year.