Like many or most places around the United States, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is having a conversation about homelessness.
The Albuquerque Journal reported in December that the state’s homeless population increased by nearly three percent last year, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. What’s more, it said, New Mexico has the highest rate of chronic homelessness in the country (apart from the District pf Columbia) — around 42 percent of New Mexicans living rough have been doing so for a year or more.
In January, citing a “crisis of homelessness” in the city, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller created a 40-person “Homelessness Advisory Council” to help guide the city’s efforts to address the problem, and to serve as a liaison between city government and people in need of services.
Like Eureka City Councilmember Kim Bergel, Keller himself spent a day homeless in his town — registering for a shelter — to understand what people are going through.
“The stories people shared with me like losing their home because of a medical emergency or a lost paycheck, those are things that could happen to many people in Albuquerque,” Keller said. “That’s why we’re stepping up to create a safety net that works.”
Keller isn’t the only Albuquerquean trying to find solutions, as can be seen in the “Target 7” investigative report from KOAT-TV that is embedded below. How does a city go about getting people off the streets, out of the camps, and into a better life?
“We found one community more than a thousand miles away that may have the answer,” says reporter Doug Ferndandez.
Watch the whole thing, but the nut of it is: These Albuquerqueans are pretty darned impressed with the way Eureka tackled the Devil’s Playground not only through evictions, but — with the help of Betty Chinn — diverting the evicted people into services, housing and jobs.
Some organizations in their city are building something similar to the Blue Angel Village, using tiny houses in place of shipping containers, and Eureka’s experience leaves the Target 7 News Team optimistic about its chances for success.