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The Advocate

The Student News Site of Albuquerque Academy

The Advocate

The Student News Site of Albuquerque Academy

The Advocate

Homelessness Increases in ABQ

Image from Wikimedia Commons:
Albuquerque Skyline

Albuquerque is in the midst of a serious homelessness crisis, one that’s recently been brought into focus from a count by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. This isn’t just a bunch of numbers on a page – it’s a real, tangible census of people without a roof over their heads. What it showed is that there was an 83% jump in homelessness from the previous year, with 2,394 individuals now without a home in the city.
In the past few years, the city has been revisiting its policies towards homelessness and encampments, aiming for an ‘all of the above’ approach that combines enforcement, support, and partnerships to curb homelessness​​. Mayor Tim Keller emphasized a more assertive stance in enforcing laws, especially in areas with documented safety concerns and places that have youth shelters​​.

Another aspect contributing to the rise in homelessness is the decline in the state’s behavioral health system under Governor Susana Martinez’s tenure. The dismantling of this infrastructure amid accusations of Medicaid fraud led to the closure of several providers, leaving many without access to vital services. Furthermore, the pandemic has become a notable cause of homelessness. CDC guidance against moving encampments to curb COVID-19 spread led to parks becoming a significant site for the unhoused population.

The homeless rely on different organizations to provide shelter space. While they are doing their best, but with such limited capacity, they’re often forced to turn people away and put them on dishearteningly long waitlists.

It’s not just a random spike either. Since 2017, the average rent across New Mexico has shot up by about 70%, while incomes have only seen a 15% rise.”

It’s not just a random spike either. Since 2017, the average rent across New Mexico has shot up by about 70%, while incomes have only seen a 15% rise. This mismatch between what people earn and what they have to pay for rent is pushing more and more people into homelessness. It’s a crisis that’s been brewing for years, and now we’re seeing the consequences.

In a recent town hall meeting, State Representative Pamelya Herndon put the spotlight on homelessness, public safety, and mental health. Herndon is calling for state, city, and county leaders to come together and use resources effectively. Her idea is to come up with innovative ways to lift the well-being of the community, though the specifics of her plan aren’t clear.

With lawmakers starting the legislative session in January, the pressure is on for the city’s leaders to come up with sustainable, long-term solutions for the city’s most vulnerable residents. Albuquerque’s struggle with homelessness is such a complex issue that it requires a unique approach. It’s not just about providing shelter, but also about addressing the underlying causes, like the constantly increasing cost of living and the lack of affordable housing. It’s about leaders at all levels coming together to put in place practical policies and the community as a whole understanding and responding to the needs of its less fortunate members. As this situation unfolds, it will undoubtedly provide valuable lessons and insights for cities across the country grappling with similar challenges.

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About the Contributor
Isaiah Hashimoto '24, Writer/Podcaster
While being one of the initiative leaders for the Advocate’s podcast division, The Podvocate, Isaiah ’24 is also a writer for The Advocate who has covered various topics, including technology, economics, and political issues. While he enjoys contributing to the Advocate, Isaiah is also a member of the Student Senate, DECA, and one of the varsity swim team captains. In his free time, he likes to listen to and review music in an ever-expanding search to broaden his musical horizons and share his discoveries with others. Isaiah '24 is a multifaceted individual with diverse interests and unwavering dedication, and he is excited to work with The Advocate in the 2023-2024 school year.

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    Wayne W WeismantelDec 6, 2023 at 7:46 pm

    OMG the rent all accross America has increased exponentially! I’m a 63 year old disabled senior and I try to survive on $935 Mo! I’m having to go back to work because the SSI just isn’t enough