Parents concerned about homeless near after-school program
August 22, 2019 03:04 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— Homelessness is a reality in the community, but some parents are drawing the line when it comes to that population interacting with their children.
Celia Quezada picks up her 12-year-old daughter from the after-school program at Johnny Tapia Community Center. She described what she often sees.
“A homeless man passed out with his legs wide open under the benches,” Quezada said. “The gentleman urinates on the side of the building and it’s hot so you can smell the urine. It was disgusting. I don’t feel my child is safe. I cannot believe that this is something they want to let our children come into.”
Quezada said the amount of homeless people at the park is upsetting. Jess Martinez is with the Department of Family and Community Services and he said he agrees it is a problem.
“We transport kids from Lew Wallace Elementary, Longfellow Elementary and neighborhood participants,” Martinez said. “We are not happy with the situation.”
Martinez said keeping the children safe is their priority and that they often do not let them play in the park at the community center.
He also said that they do not have the authority to remove these people because it is a public park.
“We just try to remind them to be respectful of the place because it is an open facility, it’s a public facility,” he said.
But Quezada is demanding more to be done.
“Call 311, I don’t care how much time you call them,” she said. “Bug them, have somebody out there. There’s no supervision, there’s no authority for the people not to be hanging out like this.”
The city is working with nearby neighborhood associations to address the issue. But they also plan to take another approach, a $14 million bond in the November election to build an emergency homeless shelter. A location for the proposed shelter has not been set yet.
Updated: August 22, 2019 03:04 PM
Created: August 21, 2019 10:14 PM
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