Businesses call nearby homeless camp a health hazard

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Businesses want the city to do more to keep their part of town safe and clean. They say they recently got new neighbors who are living where they should not be, and they want them gone.

The owner of Don’s Paperback Books near San Mateo and Kathryn say the convenience store and bus stop across the street has been attracting problems for years. She calls it a vicious cycle.

“Beg for small amounts of money, head over to 7-Eleven, score a single beer, a small dose of whiskey,” said owner Elizabeth Johnson. “And then come right back to the bus stop or come back to the businesses and hang out and drink their alcohol.”

Then, a few weeks ago, employees noticed the homeless were starting to live across the street from the store.

“Set up lots of pieces of wood, they even had some pieces of sheet rock over there, mattresses,” said Johnson. “All kinds of things over there. Including shopping carts, clothing.”

Johnson says one of her biggest concerns is the waste.

“We can’t have buckets of feces lying around the city,” said Johnson.

The city says it has received complaints about the encampment on this privately owned vacant lot and contacted the property owner. However, Johnson says it’s a health hazard and wants it cleaned up immediately.

“No one is doing enough to get it cleaned up fast enough,” said Johnson.

She also says she has been forced to close earlier than normal.

“It’s like the walking dead here at night, you can’t go out there feeling safe at all,” said Johnson.

Still, Johnson says she feels lucky to have such loyal customers.

“They really know how important it is to keep a real bookstore alive so they keep coming down,” said Johnson.

According to the city, the owner of the property has until the end of the week to come into compliance and clean up the camp and debris. If they don’t, the city could clean the property and place a lien on it.

The camp violates several city codes including housing and zoning, and the anti-litter ordinance.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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