Local business leaders discuss solutions to homelessness in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –  Mayor Tim Keller recently shocked the metro with his announcement to close Coronado Park, which has been at the center of much of the conversation.

The city council has gone back and forth on what to do about the issue, most recently moving against the idea of Safe Open Spaces.

The chamber of commerce said they’re very passionate about getting the proposed Gateway Center up and running. They say Albuquerque can be forceful in handling the homeless crisis while also being compassionate. 

“Our homeless challenge doesn’t have to be a hopeless challenge,” said Scott Darnell with the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

Darnell and several other chamber of commerce members are voicing their thoughts on what has become a heated debate: what to do about the homeless crisis in the metro?

“The mayor did the right thing and closing down the homeless camp at Coronado Park, we appreciate him for taking that step. Number two would be that we really do believe that as a city, we can be a very compassionate and caring city and do a fantastic job of serving and helping the homeless. But we need to be very clear, our city is not a campground,” said Darnell. 

Now, the chamber of commerce is calling on the city council to move forward with the Gateway Center proposal in light of the park closing. 

“The Gateway Center provides an excellent opportunity for sheltering a drop-off point for first responders, and for others, to take the homeless who are in need, and a colocation and coordination of services. That’s the opportunity that’s in front of us with the Gateway Center,” Darnell said. 

Also saying it does not support Open Safe Spaces. 

“We’re calling for the city council to abandon the encampment strategy, and they’ll be taking a vote on this and a little more than a week. We simply believe that it’s important for our city leaders to say ‘our city is not a campground’ and enforce it,” said Darnell. 

Making it clear they want Albuquerque to be a compassionate city that helps the homeless population, but camping is unacceptable. 

“It’s a challenging issue, we’re right in a moment of opportunity here,” said Darnell. 

The city council recently introduced a proposal to repeal Safe Open Spaces. They will meet again in a week and it’s unclear if this will be on the agenda.