ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two New Mexico lawmakers woke up on the streets of Downtown Albuquerque Sunday, January 22. They say it’s an effort to learn more about the homeless crisis in our state. “It was really an opportunity to come out here and see what folks are dealing with,” said Senator Harold Pope Jr.
At a brisk 23 degrees, Representative Eleanor Chavez and Senator Harold Pope Jr. woke up inside a tent on 4th Street and Marble in Downtown. “I’ve never really seen the extent of what happens at night,” said Senator Pope Jr.
The two agreed to participate in a night out on the street with state leaders as part of the YouTube series ‘Pick Up New Mexico,’ a digital show that aims to engage New Mexicans in local politics and social issues facing our state. “Coming out here, hearing the stories of homeless people and hearing their life stories and how they got here just humanizing the whole issue,” said host, Isiah Yazzie.
He’s hoping to showcase the hardships the homeless population lives with. “What situations they are in? How they are going to keep warm tonight? What are they going to do why or why not? They choose to stay in a shelter or stay on the street,” said Senator Pope Jr.
The night started with dinner and conversation. “One of the women last night said be kind to us, you know, we’re people too,” said Representative Chavez.
It allowed them to get to know each individual who wanted to speak up. “That’s not always easy to do, you know, you gotta kinda build that trust,” said Senator Pope Jr.
It was an eye-opening experience. “One of the things that interested me was a youth homeless shelter and that definitely needs to be addressed here in Albuquerque,” said Rep. Chavez.
The lawmakers plan to bring what they’ve learned with them back to the Roundhouse. “You know, as a legislator I wanna find out what it is that we can do at the state level,” said Rep. Chavez.
It’s more than just helping people get off the streets; it’s helping others never get to that point. “Sometimes, you lose your job, and you lose your housing, and you’re on the street, and it just begins a whole cycle,” said Rep. Chavez. “It affects our entire state, so we need to deal with it on a state-wide level.”
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For these lawmakers, the fight against homelessness is now more personal. “We have to put a human face to this issue to each individual person,” said Sen. Pope Jr.