A non-profit serving homeless women says they’ll never be able to open their doors if Mayor Tim Keller and the city don’t step in and do their jobs.
“To do our job, we need them to do their job and get rid of the building,” said Street Safe New Mexico founder, Christine Barber.
Street Safe new Mexico is in the process of renovating an old hair salon into a haven for sex trafficking victims and homeless women.
Earlier this year, they moved into that building on Central near Wyoming. It is attached to the old Bea’s Restaurant. In June, Mayor Tim Keller personally red tagged the old Bea’s part of the building.
“It was so exciting to see the mayor and the whole strike force come out here and be like, ‘Super, we’re gonna get this building and take care of it,'” said Barber.
But now, several months have passed, and Barber says the problem is only getting worse.
“Our gas meter has been vandalized and we now have a gas leak and that’s on top of the problems we were already having,” said Barber.
Groups of homeless people are living in the old Bea’s and Barber says they’re stealing anything that’s not nailed down. She says they’re even climbing onto Bea’s roof, walking over to hers and stealing metal off it.
“You can just walk across. That’s all totally flat up there,” said Barber.
The City’s Planning Department says they’re trying to keep the long-abandoned property secure. Thursday morning, they went out and re-tagged the property and re-boarded up windows and doors.
However, when KRQE News 13 visited Thursday afternoon, there were already holes and pry marks in some boards.
Barber believes as long as Bea’s is still standing, her problem will persist.
“If Mayor Keller could just bring his sledgehammer. Just come over here and start knocking stuff down. That would be phenomenal,” said Barber.
However, the city says demolition is a last resort for them. City spokesperson Carmelina Hart says, in this case, the owners still have time to try and bring the building up to code themselves. She also says, structurally, demolishing only part of this building would be challenging.
“There is a shared load bearing wall,” said Hart.
Barber says she and the city have shared interests: both want to help the homeless population.
“We would be able to help some of those people if we were open,” said Barber.
They also both want to revitalize old buildings.
“We don’t want to go to another building. This place is perfect for us,” said Barber.
Mayor Keller’s camp would not go on camera with KRQE News 13, but sent this statement:
“Mayor Tim Keller personally stapled the red tag to this property himself because taking back our city from crime hotspots is a priority. Like any property that has been red-tagged, there is a specific process that must be followed and it is underway at this property. The City is working with the property owners on both sides of the shared wall to make this area safer for the community,” said Alicia Manzano, Communications Director for Mayor Tim Keller.”
If you’d like to help Street Safe keep renovating, click here.