ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A judge has ruled the city of Albuquerque is not allowed to sweep through homeless camps and take people’s belongings. This, after a group of people living in city parks, filed a lawsuit, claiming the city’s seizures violated their rights. “It is unconstitutional to criminalize somebody’s very being when there’s no place legally for people to go in the city.”
Thursday, a district court judge handed down an injunction against the city, barring them from removing or destroying the property of homeless people.
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“Medication that they need to live people’s driver’s licenses, birth certificates, social security cards, all sorts of things right that make it would make it impossible to get jobs and get services going forward in their absence,” Laura Schauer Ives, attorney.
Under the order, effective November 1, property can only be removed if it is blocking sidewalks, driveways, or alleys or if it’s on school grounds. Otherwise, officials need a warrant and must give advance notice of the removal, as well as an opportunity for the owner to reclaim the items. Everything taken must be documented.
This follows a lawsuit filed on behalf of eight people whose belongings were seized while they were living in city parks, including Coronado Park before it was shut down last summer. Before its closure, 120 people lived at Coronado, but after years of cleanups, as well as crime including a murder, the city shut it down.
According to the plaintiffs, the closure happened with little to no warning. “They’re fencing off every empty lot that we have, like they’re just tossed… People cannot be herded around from place to place because they don’t have a home.”
On the day the park closed, the city announced it would provide housing vouchers and beds at shelters for everyone there. Attorneys argue adequate housing doesn’t exist, and more needs to be done to help the homeless, not criminalize them. “We should be looking at legislation that allows for enough housing within the city to house the number of people that actually live here, because there isn’t enough housing here.”
Thursday the city responded to the injunction in a statement:
“This dangerous ruling would severely limit our ability to keep our city clean and safe, while getting people connected to the help they need. We intend to challenge the decision and protect our ability to enforce necessary public safety measures.”City of Albuquerque