The city of Albuquerque has a homeless problem. Countless initiatives have been tried over the years, but the problem persists.
Thursday, Mayor Keller released a list of new ideas, but will they work? KRQE News 13 went to the best place for answers: the streets.
“My name is Ruth Ann Beddicker, but I go by Ruthie and I’ve been hanging out on the streets for about 17 years,” said Ruthie.
KRQE News 13 caught up with her at The Rock at Noonday before she got a free lunch.
She said she’s been homeless for so long, it’s a way of life for her.
“I’m used to being outdoors,” said Ruthie.
The city wants to do more to help people like Ruthie. Among the mayor’s ideas, providing a shelter that would be open 24/7 — something the city doesn’t have now. Ruthie said that would be good.
“If we had a 24/7, that’s our home base, we could go home,” said Ruthie. “Even though it’s not our permanent address, but we still call it home, that’s our home.”
Still, Ruthie has reservations about transitioning from the shelter to affordable housing, something the mayor is also pushing for.
“It’s going to stress a lot of people out because some people have been out for about 20 years you know, and that’s just what we’re use to,” said Ruthie.
Ruthie said she had an apartment for three years, but found herself back on the streets because of her drinking — a common story out here. She said people like her don’t like so many rules.
“Not like an AA meeting or not like that you have to go to,” said Ruthie. “Something you can come down, have some coffee and get to know your neighbors, stuff like that you know. That would be cool.”
The mayor also wants to create a triage center for addiction and behavioral health issues and more services in downtown where homelessness is most prevalent.
When KRQE News 13 asked Ruthie if she thought the city was doing enough to help people like her:
“Yes,” said Ruthie. “Yes, they are because they don’t have to do this.”
Another big part of the mayor’s plan is to grow the Heading Home program, which provides housing vouchers for those who want to transition from the streets.
The city recently approved several affordable housing projects, including the Sterling Downtown apartments being built now on Coal.