Fewer tent encampments seen in downtown Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – One part of Albuquerque consistently known as a hot bed for the homelessness crisis is seeing some possible improvements.

The city has cracked down on large encampments and is even clearing small campsites as they get reported. That lead to one man making a surprising observation.

“We are seeing a lot fewer tents in greater downtown, than we used to,” said Peter Rice, editor of Downtown Albuquerque News. 

Downtown Albuquerque News data shows that before the city cracked down on the tent city in Coronado Park in 2022, there were around 100 tents in the greater downtown area. 

Closing the park helped, and the numbers ticked up until about March.

“I used to do this monthly back when Coronado Park was a thing. But now it’s like every other month, I’m thinking about quarterly. Because they’re just not — they’re just not there anymore,” said Rice. 

The question is: why? 

“Well, you know, it’s just been a consolidated effort between multiple departments,” said Matthew Whelan, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer. 

Whelan says they are not doing anything different downtown versus other parts of town when it comes to clearing encampments.

Numbers from the city’s Solid Waste Department show a decline citywide in the number of notices given to people in encampments since May.

“As we continue to do this – we want the numbers to go down. You know what I mean, we want there to be less,” said Whelan. 

“Now, where they went? That’s anybody’s guess,” said Rice. 

“Depends on what part of town I end up on,” said Mickey. “Maybe most likely – uh 4th street, probably behind Smith’s. Just get a cardboard box.”

Micky won’t be in a tent tonight. For a year and half, he says he’s been fighting addiction on the Duke City streets. 

Any data on homelessness will be closely watched downtown and beyond.

“The fact we’ve now got a situation where there are vastly fewer tents, and fewer major encampments – that doesn’t really solve homelessness. Homelessness is still way too easy to get into and way too hard to get out of,” Rice said. 

Good numbers on homelessness populations are really tricky. There’s an official Point-In-Time survey done once a year, but Rice is tracking things much more closely in the greater downtown area.

But what about the Gateway Center?

The gateway center is still coming online, they are still only accepting women.