People without housing respond to Albuquerque’s proposed solutions’ setbacks

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Chris, a homeless man a KOB 4 crew met in southwest Albuquerque recently, is no stranger to the city’s streets.

“It’s rough bro, these cats are freezing their butts off every night almost dying surviving off a candle,” said Chris.

He’s also no stranger to the challenges that come along with trying to get off of them. He went through his own struggle with addiction, but says he stopped using and can’t find the help he needs.

“There is no rehabilitation. If they could rehabilitate me, I’d probably be working a job. My partners would all be working jobs,” said Chris. “We could beg them to give us a job and they still won’t let us have a job.”

He could find assistance at Albuquerque’s center, if it was open. An asbestos discovery pushed back the project schedule again last week.

“I think it was a surprise asbestos became the issue, but I know the city is doing everything they can to mitigate that,” said David Sisneros, chief operations officer of Heading Home, the state’s largest provider for the homeless. “We’re certainly hoping to see these roadblocks minimize and kind of diminish.”

Heading Home will run the shelter inside the Gateway Center when it opens.

It also runs the city’s two operational safe outdoor spaces for cars at the Westside Emergency Housing Center and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center.

Sisneros says they serve between three and five cars per night.

Meanwhile, the city’s third approved space, on Menaul near the Big-I, pulled its application last week. Dawn Legacy Pointe, the nonprofit behind that space, went through two rounds of appeals.

“They’re really well-intentioned, so I understand they’re probably gonna maybe look for another location that might be a better fit, and it’s probably a good thing,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “The biggest thing that we’re focused on is the Gateway Center because that’s a real answer.”

The city set the original opening date for the center in late spring, but Mayor Keller said the city still plans to open it this year, even with the asbestos setback.