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City Leaders React to Grants Pass v. Johnson Ruling

Flexibility on camps helps city address public safety, provide help to those in need.
June 28, 2024

In the coming weeks, City leaders will evaluate how the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Grants Pass v. Johnson will affect Albuquerque. The City appreciates more flexibility to enforce ordinances and will continue to protect the rights of unhoused individuals. 

The City of Albuquerque responds to over 50 illegal camps everyday. Outreach staff conduct welfare checks on all those at camp sites, then provide an extensive list of services including medical, shelter, behavioral health, and property storage. The Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) department provides evaluation and transport for anyone who accepts services. This process will continue. 

“I know there will be mixed reactions to this ruling in our community, so I want to be clear—the City will continue to do everything in our power to get people the help they need and to deal promptly with illegal encampments,” said Mayor Tim Keller

The City of Albuquerque has made historic investments over the last few years to increase the number of shelter beds, resources, and pathways out of homelessness. 

Prior to this administration, the Westside Emergency Housing Center was only open at night and during the winter. We made it year-round, 24/7 and increased the bed capacity. We opened the Gateway and have shelter for families, providing wrap around services for people get into permanent housing faster. The Gateway will nearly quadruple in size by next spring and will serve 1,000 people a day. The City has also tripled supportive housing vouchers since FY18, one of the most effective ways to ensure a permanent exit from homelessness. Since 2018, the City has also invested more than $71 million to bring over 2,200 new housing units to market and is buying and converting underutilized hotels into housing, like Los Altos Lofts. This summer we are dedicating $23 million to help developers build affordable housing. 

“We know that everyone’s story is unique, and people need compassionate support and resources to exit homelessness and get the stable housing that they deserve,” said Gilbert Ramirez, Director of Health, Housing and Homelessness. “We are adding vital services and working with our partners to build out a robust continuum of care so we can lift up those struggling in our city.” 

“ACS builds relationships with people experiencing homelessness through our outreach, and we work to establish trust so that people are comfortable getting the services they need,” said Albuquerque Community Safety Department Acting Director Jodie Esquibel. “We will continue to work in step with the community to connect people resources.” 

The City has also worked tirelessly with our partners at Bernalillo County and UNM to identify and fill in gaps in Albuquerque’s behavioral health and substance use treatment system. The newly opened Crisis Triage Center at UNM and the Gateway’s Medical Sobering, opening this fall, will connect thousands of people per year to the psychiatric, peer support, and substance use recovery services they need while relieving our strained emergency rooms.