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Survey: SE Heights says no to tiny homes

City Councilor Don Harris

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — People who live in the Southeast Heights, where five of six sites have been identified as possible locations for a village of tiny homes for the homeless, have overwhelmingly said they do not want it, according to an unscientific survey.

District 9 City Councilor Don Harris, whose district covers that southeast corner of the city, recently conducted a survey via his City Council webpage and by fielding calls to his office.

About 725 people responded to three questions asking if they would support the building of a tiny homes village with public money, if they saw it as a hindrance to revitalizing East Central Avenue, and if they thought the project was an appropriate way to address homelessness in the community.

The results were definitive.

On the question of building and maintaining a taxpayer-funded tiny homes village, 83.7 percent said no, 9.3 percent said yes, and 7 percent said maybe.

Regarding redevelopment and revitalization efforts on East Central, 86 percent said they were concerned, 10.8 were not; and 3.2 percent were undecided.

And whether a village of tiny homes is an appropriate way to deal with the problem of homelessness, 82.6 percent said it was not, 9.3 percent it was, and 8.1 percent were not sure.

“Before taking a position, I wanted to know how my constituents felt about it,” Harris said last week. “It’s better to support them than it is to take a position without the informed collective judgment of the people I represent.”

Judging by the survey results, the tiny homes village proposal is “extremely unpopular in my district and my constituents want me to do something else,” he said. “In other words, they want me to find a different solution to the problem.”

The homes are estimated to cost $17,000 to $20,000 per unit. The money to build them, along with the infrastructure, would come from a $2 million general bond county voters approved in November 2016. Yearly operational costs are estimated at $150,000 to $200,000.

In an open letter to his District 9 constituents, Harris said he plans to sponsor legislation that calls for a moratorium on the construction of any tiny home villages in the city until an independent and comprehensive analysis is completed on “the best way to deliver services to the homeless that will generate measurable results.”

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