Albuquerque city councilors fail to override veto to reallocate funding for ‘Safe Outdoor Spaces’

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The idea for Safe Outdoor Spaces in Albuquerque made it through another battle at the city council meeting Monday night. Councilors revisited funding for the spaces after Mayor Tim Keller vetoed their decision to reallocate the funds for Homeless Veteran Services.

The council did not have enough votes to override the veto, so the $750,000 in funding stands for the Safe Outdoor Spaces.

KOB 4 talked to the organization behind two of the three currently approved spaces about how far they believe this funding could actually go.

CEO of Heading Home, Steve Decker, jumped one of his last safe outdoor spaces hurdles Monday night.

“We’re free and clear after this,” said Decker. 

Free to start working on the next steps for the organization’s two approved Safe Outdoor Spaces at the Albuquerque Opportunity Center, and the West Side Emergency Housing Center. Their plan is to provide safe spaces for people who live in their cars, but they need the city funding to get them up and running.

“Unfortunately a lot of these types of camps are victims of drive by vandalism– throwing garbage at people, other terrible things. We don’t want that, we want to keep people safe,” said Decker. 

Decker says their proposed budget for the Opportunity Center Space is $203,000 and the Westside Center space’s is $587,000. He says the largest chunk will go toward fencing.

Of the $750,000 the city has to give, we asked Decker how much he thinks he’s getting.  

“I hope to get all of it, we wanna keep people safe my number one priority is if we’re going to have Safe Outdoor Spaces is safety,” Decker said. 

The budgets also include more case management, security, and staff for intake and tracking who stays there.

“Just providing services you could do the $750,000 but not services and fencing, and security, and extra electricity run outside, and a control gate. The start-up costs are much higher than that I think,” Decker said. 

Family and Community Services Director Carol Pierce spoke to the number at the Sept. 7 city council meeting.

“That’s really based on our estimate at the time that this could cost anywhere up to $150,000 per Safe Outdoor Space. So when we were developing the budget long ago that was our best estimate for a handful of Safe Outdoor Spaces in our community,” said Pierce 

Decker says there’s not much wiggle room in either facility’s budget.

“If the city can’t come forward with funding for the fencing more than anything neither will happen period,” said Decker. 

KOB 4 reached out to the organization behind the third approved Safe Outdoor Space on Menaul near the Big-I for comment on their budget and what they hope to get from the city, no one wanted to comment, as they’re still in the middle of the appeals process.