City cleans up homeless camp near Gateway Center

City cleans up homeless camp near Gateway Center

A homeless camp that KOB 4 has been checking on since last week is getting cleaned up Tuesday.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A homeless camp that KOB 4 has been checking on since last week is getting cleaned up Tuesday.

The camp was near the Gateway Center, where the city has a heightened focus on enforcing its encampment cleanup policies.

The homeless camp cleanup process is under a microscope right now. The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday surrounding the city’s work to clear encampments.

Civil rights advocates got a judge to limit the city’s actions, saying city workers were illegally tossing people’s belongings from public property.

In the meantime, the cleanup process is still playing out in the streets of Albuquerque.

Now, this homeless camp is on the move. KOB 4 has been following Jonathan and Heather’s camp since Friday. It’s a block north of the Gateway Center – within eyeshot of the building, and the city knew about it.

Ryan Laughlin: “So when’s the last time the city has come to this spot?“

“Uh, Friday.”

Ryan Laughlin: “They came here Friday?”


On Tuesday, Jonathan did not want to go on camera, saying he was worried talking to us might cause him trouble.

Ryan Laughlin: “What caused the recent eviction?

“Just, just bad decisions.”

One more block north, a larger camp is getting cleaned up.

Ryan Laughlin: “You slept out here last night?”


Ryan Laughlin: “And they said you have an hour to go?”

“Yup, and my wife’s on oxygen, and she’s disabled. And we had the ambulance coming out here, and I need to go to the hospital, but I can’t leave her out here either. So like, we’re kind of stuck in this hard spot.”

The current legal fighting regarding homeless camp cleanup has led the city to be more careful about how they throw away peoples’ property.

Ryan Laughlin: “You got any stuff out here that they’re throwing away, or what’s that look like?”

“No. They’re not throwing it away if we can get it moved within an hour.”

They are also supposed to give campers three days before they move them along, but there’s a problem.

Ryan Laughlin: “You weren’t notified 72 hours before?”


Ryan Laughlin: “You were only here for one night?”

“One night.” 

People tend to come and go, and some people say they missed any notification. 96 hours later, the folks are again on the move, looking for the next place to pitch a tent.

On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the city’s cleanup efforts. Part of the argument from civil rights advocates is that there is just no place to go. That there is a housing crisis, and the short-term options are not feasible.

The city says they always offer people shelter first.

Part of the claim is that the Westside shelter is a mess. A court filing shows black mold, bed bugs, and busted showers – among other problems.

The city says they are working on improving that space to try and get people there.

“Working on a wide variety of things from trying to get new beds in, new linens in. We are working on a refresh plan for the dorms, and we’re working on getting the funding for that,” said Maria Wolfe, the city’s Homeless Innovations Officer. “We are trying to address any concerns that people have, and I have a feeling it’s a moving target. That as soon as address we those concerns, new concerns will pop up. But we’re going to do our best.”

Wolfe says city employees have had training on how to interact with homeless people since the legal challenge started.

But back on the street, people are hearing their own version of the legal battle, and there’s clearly a lot of mistrust.

“They’re not allowed to touch a homeless person’s belongings – that they don’t have purpose to come and mess with us anymore. Because honestly, I feel like the city people that come tell us to leave – honestly enjoy throwing our stuff our way,” said Heather. 

Arguments are set to start at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. It will be livestreamed here.