ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –  Mayor Tim Keller says the legislature dropped the ball this session in not doing more for the homeless in New Mexico. He says this is more than an Albuquerque problem. “I believe homelessness in the metro area is a statewide worthy issue that we need help on,” he says. 

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The city requested 30 million for the Gateway Center and only about $400,000 was allocated for the capital outlay project. “We would argue that funding things like the Gateway Center help homelessness anywhere in the metro area but you know they often view it as like well that facility is in one particular district,” says Keller. 

The Gateway Center will run as a new around-the-clock homeless shelter. “We are putting funding into it. We have the community safety department and we’re doing ‘x’ amount of hundreds of more vouchers literally every day.”

Low-income apartments and homes are scarce in New Mexico. These people are one step away from homelessness. The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty adds the state has some of the shortest and strictest time frames when it comes to eviction.

“This bill amongst other things would’ve extended time frames so that tenants have the opportunity to get caught up on rent and pay the landlord the rent that they are owed,” shares Maria Griego the Economic Equity Director. 

Mayor Keller says there is not enough money to deal with mental health and drug addiction in the homeless population. “There’s also issues around funding the behavioral health system that was dismantled now about ten years ago. We have to rebuild that.” 

He would like to see the legislature called into a special session to deal with the homeless situation. In a 30-day session, he says legislators don’t have the time to focus on this issue. Keller explains, “You’ve got a very short-term focus because it’s an election cycle, and people want to put money into their neighborhoods and that’s very natural and normal in an election year.”