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Mayor promotes efforts to address homelessness

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nothing Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has announced in recent months has prompted a bigger reaction – at least on Facebook – than last week’s joint news release with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that Expo New Mexico would temporarily shelter asylum-seeking migrants on its Albuquerque property.

While the city says it is not contributing financially to open Expo’s dormitories to the migrants passing through town on their way to meet sponsors elsewhere, city staff is providing coordination assistance.

Mayor Keller’s Facebook post on the subject last Tuesday generated over 1,100 reactions, predominantly supportive thumbs-ups and hearts.

But it also garnered several critical comments asking what the city was doing to help the local homeless population.

The mayor reminded us over the next few days what he’s been doing on that front.

On Wednesday, Keller’s office issued a news release about the city capital improvement plan going to voters this fall. Drafted by Keller’s administration, amended and approved by City Council and ultimately signed by Keller, the plan totals $128 million. Though the money is spread across road projects, public safety initiatives and parks, the single largest line item is $14 million to build a 24/7 centrally located homeless shelter.

Then on Thursday, Keller tweeted that “homelessness is one of Albuquerque’s biggest challenges. Our proposed budget aims to help more families get and stay housed.” The tweet linked to his Facebook page and a video of Keller and the city’s Deputy Director of Housing and Homelessness, Lisa Huval. Standing in Coronado Park, they discussed the city’s recent move to keep its West Side emergency shelter open on a year-round basis, Keller’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal to expand funding for housing vouchers and the aformentioned centralized shelter plan.

“Hopefully, with those three initiatives, we’re able to make a dent in some of our homeless challenges,” Keller said in the video.

SECOND GETS A HAND: Bernalillo County last week announced the completion of $8.5 million worth of work on Second Street SW, including sidewalks, storm drainage and a new multiuse trail between Mountain View Elementary School and the Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge.

A second phase of the Second Street project will extend similar improvements northward to Rio Bravo, the county said.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “An officer on a bike can get into all the nooks and crannies, and we know that Central is full of nooks and crannies and that’s where stuff happens usually.” – Ripe Inc.’s Len Romano at a news conference announcing four city councilors’ proposal to dedicate up to $1.5 million in the 2020 budget for bicycle police and marketing help along Central Avenue.

Romano was among several businesspeople who had contacted city officials to request more security in the area.

Jessica Dyer: jdyer@abqjournal.com

 

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