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Mayor Keller’s 2021 State of the City: Leading through Uncharted Territory, Lays Out Albuquerque’s Road to Recovery

Virtual program highlights leaders from City and community, COVID-19 response and recovery, and major announcements on homelessness, crime, and economic development

March 14, 2021

Mayor Tim Keller delivered his third State of the City address today, this year in a virtual format due to COVID-19. In place of the annual community event, the City released an hour-long video that featured special guests from City leadership and the community.

The video is available across many platforms and a full schedule of upcoming broadcast dates and times can be viewed at

This year’s remarks reflected the theme of leading through the uncharted territory, finding true north without a roadmap, and illuminating the road ahead in midst of crisis. The Mayor shared personal stories of eerie shopping trips when the shelves were empty, getting his two young children logged in for virtual school each morning, and delivering groceries to his parent’s doorstep.

While reflecting on the crisis laden past year, Mayor Keller outlined plans for recovery ahead. As the City pushes forward on COVID-19 recovery efforts, keeping focus on Albuquerque’s biggest challenges remains a top priority for the Administration including tackling crime, addressing homelessness, and boosting economic development.

Highlights from the State of the City include:

Following a purpose-driven path to address public safety

  • Announced two new top leadership positions for APD–Chief Harold Medina and Superintendent of Police Reform Sylvester Stanley.
  • For the third year in a row, the City is meeting its goal to hire 100 new officers annually.
  • Reversed worst-in-the-nation property crime rates, and auto theft, burglary and robbery are all falling year-over-year.
  • Weekly anti-crime operations led to more than 1,000 arrests, 136 recovered firearms and 124 recovered stolen vehicles.
  • 73% of offenders on the Metro 15 list are no longer on Albuquerque’s streets.
  • Tripled the size of the homicide unit from 5 detectives to 14 detectives and 2 sergeants and investing in long overdue gunshot detection technology. 
  • Targeting dangerous quality of life issues like speeding and drag racing.
  • Cleared the decades-old rape kit backlog within three years, once and for all. 
  • Interrupting the cycle of violent crime through the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) – of the 110 individuals who have participated since October, most have not picked up a gun again.
  • Reimagining policing through the new Albuquerque Community Safety Department.

Charting the path forward on homelessness

  • The City signed an agreement to purchase the Gibson Medical Center, which will serve as the first 24/7, low-barrier Gateway Center. This year, the Administration will follow through on the largest investment for the unhoused population in the cities modern history, making the vision of an integrated behavioral health and homelessness system a feasible reality.
  • In the spirit of One Albuquerque, a group of local businesses are pooling their resources to contribute half a million dollars to supporting the City’s progress for the unhoused, and Bernalillo County is pitching in $1 million from their bond program.
  • The City doubled the number of people being served by the City’s homeless support system by expanding emergency shelter and developing long-term answers.
  • Kept the Westside Emergency Housing Shelter (WEHC) open 24/7, provided three hot meals a day, brought in a medical services team and expanded transportation options.
  • Opened five wellness hotels for families and individuals who needed to isolate.
  • Created a fast-track to housing for families to get into their own homes using housing vouchers.

Bolstering Albuquerque’s local economy and bringing good paying jobs

  • In the last three years, the Keller administration has created more than 4,000 new job opportunities, including projects with Netflix, Orion, NBCUniversal, and many others.
  • Orion plans to break ground on 4.1 million sq ft manufacturing facility at Sunport. In the meantime, they have secured 200,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space to start building out their team here in ABQ. The company will make a formal announcement soon.  
  • Bringing thousands of good paying jobs online, through global companies like Facebook, Netflix, NBC Universal, and Amazon and by supporting local gems like Bueno Foods, Los Poblanos, and Build with Robots as they expand.
  • Albuquerque’s own ‘new deal’: Investing $200m in new streets and sidewalks on the west side, two new community centers along Route 66, an expansion at Explora for teenagers, and a new library in the International District. Pushed through $200 million in transformative infrastructure projects including those in East Downtown, Nob Hill and supportive housing at Central and Unser.
  • $12 million dollars in grants and other assistance given directly to businesses to stay afloat. Waived thousands of dollars in permitting fees so restaurants could expand outdoor dining and stay open.
  • Albuquerque jumped 72 points on the Best Performing Cities Report, a credit to high-tech growth and the City’s resilience and inclusion. For the first time in recent memory, more people are moving to Albuquerque than leaving.

Ensuring Albuquerque strong recovery post-pandemic

  • Albuquerque is now one of the top 10 sustainable cities in the country and will be 100% renewable by 2025.
  • Providing free childcare for frontline workers who cannot stay home
  • $1 million in rental assistance to help families and individuals stay in their homes, with another $24 million on the way this year.
  • Providing nearly one million meals to seniors and conducting 12,00 home visits to make sure people are not isolated.
  • Leaving no one behind by embedding equity in COVID testing and vaccine distribution. Removing barriers related to immigration status, language access, disability, and transportation.

Quotes from the Remarks:

Strengthening Albuquerque’s Safety Net. “When other cities shut down, we stepped up. We know that for Albuquerque, telling folks to ‘just stay home’ is oversimplifying a complex issue. It’s a catchy phrase but not a policy that works for hundreds of thousands in our town. Staying home is a luxury that not everyone has, and home is not always the safest place. We moved nimbly to design a response and recovery that would leave no one behind.”

Stepping up for local businesses. “I knew this was uncharted territory every Friday afternoon as I would join our team literally handing our checks, and filling car trunks with free PPE, to hundreds of cars lined up for blocks. Despite that line being a reflection of desperate times, the lifeline it provided was something astonishing to see.”

Jumpstarting a COVID Economy. “When the crisis first hit, and our team was brainstorming what do, many of us harkened back to the legendary ‘New Deal’ program that guided our country through the Great Depression…For the first time in years there are construction cranes popping up all over town as we build for recovery. Our City is getting new streets and sidewalks on the west side, two new community centers up and down Route 66m an Explora expansion for teenagers, a new library in the International District, and through our redevelopment program, we are sparking transformative construction projects in East Downtown, Nob Hill and Supportive Housing at Central and Unser...totaling over $200 million.”

Making sure Albuquerque thrives post-pandemic. “The pandemic is also changing how the rest of the southwest, and our country, views Albuquerque. More national firms are learning what we already know, Albuquerque is one of the best places to live and work. We are emerging as the home base for two key industries: film and space.”

Providing outlets for residents. “We consciously kept our parks and open spaces open, knowing that those places might be the only reprieve for many of our residents, especially those in dense housing with no place outside to play. Instead of shutting down libraries, pools, museums and the zoo; we committed to finding ways to stay open for families but in modified COVID-safe ways. That’s why we still got to see hot air balloons and fireworks in the sky, drive-up movies and holiday lights up and down Central.”

Reflecting on Leading our City through Crisis.  “2020 was the ultimate test of leadership and the One Albuquerque Spirit. I had to make decisions to save lives and livelihoods, and our traditional resilience has shown the rest of the country we are a healthier place to live, and illuminated how grateful we are to call Albuquerque home.”

The full, hour-long State of the City Address can be viewed here.