ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Trash, graffiti, and homeless camps have become a common sight along I-40 in Albuquerque. The New Mexico Department of Transportation says it’s a struggle to keep the area clear. NMDOT says they are seeing an increase in homeless camps along I-40, and once they clear one, it isn’t long before another camp pops up in a different area.
KRQE News 13 spotted camps set up Tuesday along I-40 and Carlisle, you can see tents where people are living along the freeway. Nearby there are spots where fires have been set, graffiti, and shopping carts full of debris.
Those who work in the area, say they have noticed an increase in the homeless population.
“It doesn’t shine a positive light on our city. I see a lot of caution with people who are coming in for the first time from out of state and you can see their hesitancy, like should I be walking around. People ask me if it’s safe to walk from here to there should I be in a car? What are the good parts of town? Which can be pretty embarrassing,” says Tony Garcie, owner of Epiphany Espresso.
NMDOT says they work in partnership with the city to clear the camps. They remove the tent and debris. while the City of Albuquerque does outreach to get those living on public property relocated.
“It’s why the city is also not only just responding to encampments on public property, also investing in long-term solutions to homelessness. So things like our gateways center at Gibson Medical Center that will offer low barrier, trauma inform shelter that we hope folks that are currently sleeping outside will feel comfortable coming in to access,” says Lisa Huval, Deputy Director of Housing and Homelessness. CABQ.
People who work in the area say crews are typically responsive when they report these camps and they usually have them cleared in about 72 hours. News 13 asked the NMDOT if they’re planning to add barricades or fencing to keep people from setting up camps around the freeway, but they say there are no plans for that at this time because bridge engineers need to access many of those areas.