Albuquerque city teams clear large encampment, house 160+ people

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The large encampment near the I-40 underpass on 1st St. and Indian School in Albuquerque has been a point of contention for weeks.

After complaints from local business owners, a homicide investigation, and other recent violence, Albuquerque city teams cleared it Wednesday.

“Many many drug dealers, and then of course some violence we had both the homicide and we had actually a scalping incident maybe a month ago,” said Dr. Elizabeth Holguin, deputy director of homeless solutions and clinical advisor in the city’s Family and Community Services Department. “There was a lot of drug activity, I think many people heard of the homicide a week or so ago, which I think did motivate people to want to get out of here.”

City departments cleared more than 160 people and dozens of camps from the underpass within hours Wednesday. Some went to motels, others went to city shelters.

Responders provided notice to people days in advance they would be moved into motels, instead of just posting a ‘closed’ sign in the area and potentially pushing the people to find a new spot down the street.

“Displacement is really kind of the thing we really need to avoid to be successful in these outreach efforts,” said Holguin. “People do want housing. I think there’s a big myth around that oh they don’t want a house. But they do.”

NMDOT put up fencing Wednesday afternoon, and will come back in a couple of weeks to install more permanent, wrought iron fencing.