ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Those that reside in downtown Albuquerque are struggling with the homeless population in the area. Sometimes, the homeless even block the exit of a parking garage.
“I’ll drive up here in the morning and then I open the garage door this way, and on a good day, it would be like this. On a less optimum day, you’ll see a body strewn across the exit.”
Richard Caldwell isn’t surprised anymore when the garage door opens and the homeless are sleeping and camping in the parking garage exit.
“First, you make sure the person is okay and then you try and wake them up. To be honest, most of the time they’re groggy, but they’re cordial enough to go, ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ Sometimes, they’re like, ‘I don’t need to move; I can be here if I want,’ but eventually (you’ll) get them to move.”
Caldwell lives at the Gold Avenue Lofts above the 2nd Street parking garage on Gold in downtown Albuquerque. He used to love calling this place home, but lately, he said it’s changed.
Caldwell said the homeless blocking the exit has been a problem since March and happens three to four times a week. He and others have made multiple 311 reports about the homeless blocking the parking garage. KRQE counted nine in the last few weeks. He said the city will come to clean up the encampments, but soon after they leave, the homeless come right back. In his 17 years at the Lofts, he’s never seen it this bad and other neighbors agree.
“A lot of times there’s a danger that: A, someone might get run over, or B, you have to move them out of the way. Oftentimes, physically move them out of the way because they’re passed out. Other times, they’re just belligerent when you’re telling them, ‘hey get out of the way,'” Joaquin Baca said.
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Baca not only calls downtown home but is President of the ABQ Core Downtown Neighborhood and Business Association. He wants to see more officers patrolling the area to keep the homes moving. He believes if more businesses moved downtown, the city could see more relief. “You can clearly see, if you go down Central, if the business is closed or abandoned, it’s a mess. If you go down Gold where there are retail businesses, and 2nd Street also just before Coal, there’s several retail there, you’ll see there’s no issues there.”
For Caldwell, as concerning as the homeless encampment are, it won’t be scaring him off anytime soon. “Has there ever been days where I can’t take this anymore? But then I go, where would I wanna go? I mean, I love Albuquerque, and I love downtown Albuquerque.”