Neighbors object to ABQ shelter proposal - Albuquerque Journal

Neighbors object to ABQ shelter proposal

The city of Albuquerque is planning a new homeless shelter and services hub at the old Lovelace hospital at 5400 Gibson SE. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Three neighborhood associations on Tuesday asked a zoning examiner to reject the city’s request to use a former Southeast Albuquerque hospital as an overnight shelter, claiming the city has provided insufficient outreach and details about the project and its impact.

But city officials and other community members stressed the need to move forward with emergency overnight accommodations for the growing homeless population.

The two-hour debate before Zoning Hearing Examiner Robert Lucero marked the latest step in the city’s yearslong effort to launch a no-barrier, 24/7 homeless shelter and services center. The city needs “conditional use” approval to operate the shelter at the old Lovelace hospital on Gibson, a property it bought in April for $15 million.

Lucero, a local attorney working under a city contract, said he would make a decision in 15 days.

“I’m going to do my best to decide this on the merits,” Lucero said. “There are a lot of considerations to be made.”

The 572,000-square-foot Gibson facility sits on nearly 21 acres. Jackie Fishman, a consultant representing the city, said the plan is to use about 10% to 15% of the space for a shelter, providing emergency bed space for up to 100 individuals and 25 families. The site works for a shelter, she said, because it is served by multiple city bus routes and is not “abutting, adjacent to or within close proximity” to single-family residential developments.

“The task at hand is to answer whether this use is appropriate for this property. We believe it is by being relatively physically separated from the neighborhoods,” Fishman said.

But some who live nearby used Tuesday’s hearing to reiterate arguments that their area – City Council District 6 – is already home to a disproportionate number of service providers.

“Adding to it again … seems unreasonable,” Robert Pierson said, calling the city’s plan “injurious” to the area.

While Fishman said services could be better distributed, she contended that is not germane to the conditional use application and disputed the claim that District 6 has more service providers than anywhere else in Albuquerque, saying a city analysis found the highest number in Downtown-based District 2.

Critics also argued Tuesday that the city had not adequately studied the potential negative ripples of a shelter. Melinda Frame with the Parkland Hills Neighborhood Association and Rachel Conger Baca of the Siesta Hills Neighborhood Association referenced a related University of New Mexico study that will not be done until early 2022. They, along with the president of the Elder Homestead Neighborhood Association, urged Lucero to deny the city’s application.

“The city has not been able to adequately address to the community surrounding Gateway how they will prevent significant adverse impacts, or the studies and data guiding their operational plan,” Frame said.

Lisa Huval, the city’s deputy director for housing and homelessness, said the UNM study is not specific to the Gibson site.

She said the city has plans to head off potential encampments around the shelter by stationing two employees at Gibson to monitor for – and clear – any that emerge within a quarter-mile, and by limiting meal service only to those staying inside.

“The Gateway Center at Gibson Health Hub is not a drop-in center and it’s not a community meal site,” she said.

Neighborhood leaders and city officials disagreed about whether the city had conducted proper neighborhood meetings before filing the conditional use application, with some critics saying that specific outreach to businesses occurred only recently. Fishman said the city met all requirements regarding neighborhood notification and that nobody, including business owners, was excluded from the related public meetings.

Khadijah Bottom of the South San Pedro Neighborhood Association spoke in support of the city’s application, saying there was ample opportunity for people to contact the city. She said she even understands some of the concerns.

“But, at the same time, we’re talking about human beings, and I just don’t understand how you could be so technical as to try to deny the opening of a building that can help these individuals,” she said.

Several others who testified Tuesday – including Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa and Venice Ceballos with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center – agreed with the city that the project should advance.

“We currently support this effort and initiative 100%,” Ceballos said, noting that UNM is working to lease space at the Gibson property and provide case management services to the people using it.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Neighbors object to ABQ shelter proposal

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
'The Lost Archive' a collection of enjoyable realistic, historical ...
ABQnews Seeker
These 22 short stories, some previously ... These 22 short stories, some previously published, demonstrates writing that is crisp, smart, accessible and engaging.
PBS documentary looks at the life of solar power ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The Sun Queen" airs at 8 ... "The Sun Queen" airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1, and is broadcast under the American Experience series. ...
Canna fairly easy to grow, come in wide varieties
ABQnews Seeker
The canna will want soil that ... The canna will want soil that can retain some moisture, but won't do too well if sitting in a puddle either.
New Mexico Photographic Art Show brings 188 works to ...
ABQnews Seeker
The 14th annual New Mexico Photographic ... The 14th annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show runs through April 18, in the Fine Arts Building at Expo New Mexico with work by ...
Albuquerque Half Marathon gears up for a fast pace ...
ABQnews Seeker
This year's edition of the Albuquerque ... This year's edition of the Albuquerque Half Marathon kicks off on Saturday, April 15.
Mountain bluebirds are often overlooked but gorgeous
ABQnews Seeker
The mountain bluebird is 7.25 inches ... The mountain bluebird is 7.25 inches long with a sky blue back, a whitish belly and a dark, short pointed beak. The female is ...
A small northern New Mexico community is trying to ...
ABQnews Seeker
The mission church at El Macho ... The mission church at El Macho has been a reassuring presence in Pecos Canyon for more than 165 years.
'Millet' for the win: State spelling bee finalists go ...
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque Academy sixth grader Keith Lee ... Albuquerque Academy sixth grader Keith Lee spells the winning word and will represent NM at the national bee
'Important Works on Paper' covers the span of Picasso's ...
ABQnews Seeker
Santa Fe's LewAllen Galleries is showcasing ... Santa Fe's LewAllen Galleries is showcasing Pablo Picasso's prints in "Celebrating Picasso's Legacy: Important Works on Paper" through May 6.