City could spend millions to buy 2 Albuquerque motels

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque said it is planning to spend millions on two motels that are plagued with crime.

A City Council resolution sponsored by Diane Gibson would take $2 million of available money in the City Housing Fund to purchase the motels in an effort to transform them into a place where people suffering from mental illness can go for services and housing.

City of Albuquerque Chief of Staff Gilbert Montaño said it would be a win-win for the area, making it safer.

“There has been significant number of calls for services for these hotel rooms and hotels,” Montaño said.

A man, who police said, threatened to blow up Motel 1 on Candelaria and University, caused a standoff that lasted seven hours in 2015.

Nearby at Motel 76 in 2014, a man was accused of throwing his five-month-old down a flight of concrete stairs during a fight with the baby’s mother.

The two motels have kept police busy.

“It’s in the area that already encompasses this transient population, a lot of homeless suffering from mental illness,” Montaño said.

It is in an industrial area, the city said, not a residential neighborhood, and could house 60 to 80 people. However, there’s still a discussion about the kind of housing and services that would be offered.

The City Council’s Finance Committee discussed the resolution at a meeting on Monday night.

“Are we ready to appropriate the $2 million for this project when we’re still not certain what the committees are going to do regarding these issues?” asked Councilor Ken Sanchez.

There are questions about whether the money to renovate or run the program could come from a 2015 Bernalillo County tax increase, put in place specifically to set aside about $20 million a year for mental and behavioral health programs.

Until those details are figured out, the Council Committee put off a vote for another month.

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