New lawsuit alleges city violated rights of homeless people at Coronado Park

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – For years, Coronado Park was home base for our homeless community, it was a tent city that many people complained was a source of problems, crime and drug activity. The city shut it down in August.

Now, a newly filed lawsuit alleges the city violated constitutional rights by destroying property and forcing those people out with no where for them to go. It was supposed to be a solution of sorts.

“The long story short is that we’re here today to announce that Coronado Park is now closed,” Mayor Tim Keller said in August.

But a new lawsuit against the City of Albuquerque is shedding light on what happened. It says people living at that park were unaware of its closure. 

Documents allege, without warning, the city went in and started tossing belongings in the trash.

“It’s morally unacceptable for the City of Albuquerque to punish people. New Mexicans experiencing homelessness, they don’t have alternative housing or shelter available,” said Laura Schauer Ives, an attorney. 

Laura Schauer Ives, along with the ACLU and others, are representing a group of men and women who were living at the park when the city shut it down. Some of them had their property, including birth certificates and identification, destroyed.

“It’s unconstitutional to take people’s property without any due process of law,” said Ives. 

Ives says the city doesn’t have enough housing or shelter space to serve the unhoused population, leaving the people who lived at the park with no alternatives.

“The City of Albuquerque is destroying those without warning and without foresight, and is actually just exasperating the issue. It’s exasperating for everyone and I think ultimately what everyone wants is for our unhoused residents to be safe, and sheltered. And the City of Albuquerque isn’t addressing the root causes of homelessness, and they are taking steps to make it worse, more dangerous,” said Ives. 

A city spokesperson sent the following statement Tuesday:

“The City and our partner organizations conducted weeks of intensive outreach, service offerings and notice, prior to closing Coronado Park. 72 people were connected to services, including local shelters, motel vouchers, pathways to permanent housing, personal storage, and medical treatment. Coronado Park had become a hub for narcotic usage, trafficking and organized crime. Closing the park was the right thing to do. People living there deserved better, safer alternatives, and connecting people with the help they needed was our priority. The City of Albuquerque is investing more money than ever in solutions to reduce chronic homelessness and create affordable housing.”