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Proposals Allow Government Sanctioned Homeless Tent Cities Throughout Albuquerque

Amendments are currently being considered by Council to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).

May 6, 2022

There are two proposals currently before the City Council that amend the City zoning code to allow government sanctioned homeless tent encampments throughout the city. One proposal would allow almost an unlimited amount of tent encampments called “Living Spaces” in every City Council District with almost no regulations. Another would propose up to 45, so called “Safe Outdoor Spaces” throughout the city with at least 5 tent encampments in every City Council District.

If passed, Albuquerque is on its way to looking like Seattle and other large cities where tent encampments are allowed in public and private city spaces, parking lots, commercial properties, near businesses, schools, offices, and homes.  What’s more concerning is that sponsors of these proposals are introducing amendments that prohibit these tent encampments from large portions of their own Council Districts.

"I oppose these unsafe and inhumane encampments,” said City Councilor Dan Lewis. “Unsanctioned substandard living conditions in the form of illegal encampments have already emerged in City Parks, along and within City streets and rights of ways, and in some instances on private property. They have become normalized at many locations within the city. These encampments are often ridden with unsanitary conditions, drug abuse, physical abuse, and victimization of the most vulnerable. These environments are not safe or compassionate and they subject their inhabitants to harm, disease, illness, and hopelessness, and subject their neighbors in the community to the same conditions. I have funded and supported public and private drug treatment programs and mental health organizations that provide humane temporary shelters with running water and heat, and I will continue to do so as the solution to the homeless challenges that we have in our City, along with enforcing our anti-encampment, loitering, and trespassing laws that are already in place.  Radical proposals that sanction tent encampments will not reduce homelessness in our city and will only make the situation worse."

In 2018, the City sold voters on an initial investment of $15 million in the Gateway Center and is planning to spend approximately $28 million next fiscal year in temporary shelters with running water and heat including the Gateway Center, tiny homes, private shelters, and related services.  Additionally, the City and County combined anticipate up to $37 million annually in mental health, drug treatment, and programs that will support the unsheltered. 

"With the investments that the City and County have already made in humane temporary shelters such as the Gateway Center and other private groups that provide temporary shelter and mental health and drug treatment, along with new private shelters, the city has beds for those that want them, and the city can legally enforce anti-encampment laws," Lewis said.

The proposed amendments to O-22-10, regarding “Living Spaces” and “Safe Outdoor Spaces,” will be considered at the May 16, 2022, City Council Meeting.