ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque has been trying to clean up one neighborhood that’s had crime and homeless problems for years. Wednesday, the city gave an inside look to see if their efforts are paying off.
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The city says over the past two years, some of the biggest issues they’ve worked on in the Wells Park neighborhood is curbing homeless encampments in Coronado Park and tackling the build-up of trash and human waste in the area. While the neighborhood is seeing big changes including improved lighting, sidewalks and increased APD patrols, there’s still a long way to go, especially when it comes to the homeless in the area.
“It was multiple departments coming together to do different pieces,” said Carol Pierce, the director of CABQ’s Family and Community Services, who touched on the improvement efforts as a multi-agency project. “Just like all parts of our community, we may have people who are unhoused who are not currently seeking shelter. We have shelter beds available throughout our community’s dispersed shelter system but there are folks who really don’t want to be in shelter.”
More than two years ago, the city started looking into what changes were needed in that area. Improvements so far include portable bathrooms, boxes for used needles, and even a ‘street sweeper’ program where HopeWorks will get $60,000 per year to hire and pay four homeless people to clean up trash in the neighborhood, five days a week. In the future, the city hopes to add more trash cans and increase trash pick-ups. Down the street, the $4 million Hope Village is set to open soon at Mountain and Third Street.
“It’s about 42 beds for people who are unhoused with mental health concerns,” said Pierce. “That should be opening this fall.”
The city’s also testing out a six-month program in one part of Wells Park. Along the alley that runs parallel to Second and Third, between Mountain and Summer, property owners will be allowed to close off access to the alley except for vital city services. If it works, other alleys in the neighborhood could receive improved fencing and similar measures to close them off to the public.
“There are concerns about people who are unhoused and also just wanting to make sure their community is as vibrant as it can be,” said Pierce, “which we agree with.”
However, even with increased fencing at Coronado Park and nighttime police patrols added to kick out encampments, the city is still seeing dozens of people camped out during the day. It’s something Family and Community Services hopes to address soon, they say they’re hiring five new outreach positions to work on helping people find alternative shelter and resources.
The resolution on the Wells Park Neighborhood study was set to be heard during Wednesday’s city council meeting but has since been withdrawn from the agenda. It’s unclear if it will go before the council again.