ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Sanctioned homeless camps are back after Albuquerque City Councilor Trudy Jones changed her vote during Wednesday night’s council meeting which prevented a moratorium on the camps from taking effect again. Already the city’s Planning and Zoning Department has approved a second location for a safe outdoor space near Edith and Candelaria which would provide room for up to 12 people.
“The city of Albuquerque has a homeless problem that has been going on for years and the systems that have been in place have not solved the problem we have to try something different and this is something different,” said Heading Home CEO, Steve Decker. After a back and forth between councilors on how to address homelessness, many were hopeful the safe spaces wouldn’t become a reality.
City councilors voted 6-3 to stop the project but Albuquerque Mayor, Tim Keller vetoed the moratorium and councilors then voted to overturn the veto. Six yes votes were needed to overturn the veto but with councilor Trudy Jones flipping her decision, the final vote ended 5-4.
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Now with the way paved for the homeless encampments to go ahead, two have been approved. There will be one on Candelaria near Edith and the other near Menaul and I-25.
A city Planning and Zoning spokesperson says it takes a few things to get a Safe Outdoor Space location approved. It comes down to five people in the department reviewing applications and ensuring IDO requirements are met, including complete applications, maintenance, and security plans. Some local residents that hope the sanctioned encampments will make a difference are hopeful. “They have nowhere to go, you see them walking, you see them starting fires, they are hungry, they need clothing, they need shelter. If you have security then security can oversee what they can do and cannot,” said Christina Baca.
Officials with Heading Home, who will be overseeing the site at the Edith and Candelaria location say they will only allow people living in their cars to occupy the space and no tents will be allowed. Decker says they expect to have the site up and running this winter. The Menaul and I-25 location for a safe outdoor space will house up to 50 people. There are currently six more sites under city review for the homeless camps. Several homeowners associations are appealing homeless camp sites to city council.