Public forum reviews proposed UNM site for homeless shelter

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The controversy over where to put the city’s sprawling new homeless shelter continues.

People from the University of New Mexico area weighed in at the first of four scheduled public forums. The shelter hasn’t even been designed yet, but it could go on a lot near I-25 between Indian School and Lomas by several UNM Hospital facilities.

“Everyone says, ‘We need to solve homelessness but not in my neighborhood.’ Well, I’m saying, ‘My neighborhood, please,'” one person said at the forum.

The city recently released the results of a survey that showed the proposed spot as the second most preferred spot for the $30 million shelters. The most preferred was a lot at 2nd and I-40.

The city’s housing and homelessness deputy director said the spot near UNM Hospital is ideal because it’s closer to resources for the homeless, including better access for finding jobs and permanent housing.

The city is also addressing the fear that the center would pose a safety risk to students and staff.
The city would provide security on site but all emergency calls would fall under the UNM Police Department’s jurisdiction. Campus police Lt. Trace Peck said his department would need more officers.

“Not that the homeless population is involved in that much crime but it’s the perception of them walking onto an open campus, hanging out at the duck pond, going to the Student Union Building- it’s the perception that our students don’t feel safe an that’s what concerns me,” said Peck.

In December, KRQE News 13 obtained emails from the Chamber of Commerce, which doesn’t want the shelter in downtown, urging its employees to vote on that online survey for this UNM location.

There are three more public forums scheduled over the next week, then UNM will be sending out a survey on February 14 to get the opinion of UNM students and families in the area about this proposed location.

Once the so-called Gateway Center opens, it’s still unclear what the city will do with its westside homeless shelter.

The Gateway Center forum dates are as follows:
Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. at the SUB, Atrium (hosted by ASUMN)
Feb. 12 at 12 p.m. at the SUB, Ballroom C
Feb. 13 at 5:15 p.m. at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center auditorium

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