Housing project divides county commissioners - Albuquerque Journal

Housing project divides county commissioners

A discussion about Bernalillo County’s Tiny Home Village turned philosophical last week as elected officials opined about how government agencies should – and should not – address homelessness.

County Commissioner Walt Benson cast the lone vote against allocating $500,000 annually to the transitional living project to cover staff and provide support to residents grappling with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and more. Benson argued that the county was “throwing good money after bad” since the village in Southeast Albuquerque has so far failed to fill its available spots. While it can accommodate up to 40 people, it currently has four residents – a situation some critics have blamed on a requirement that people who apply for a spot be clean and sober.

Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada, who supported the new funding stream, said the admission standards are too stringent and it is important to relax them.

“We’re talking about drug addiction – (for) people who don’t have that in their family and have never dealt with, that’s almost impossible,” he said. “I get it, and I understand (Benson’s) frustration. … That’s why it’s not working – we’re not meeting them where their addiction is. We expect them to be us, and they can’t be us.”

But Benson said the county had its priorities mixed up, arguing that initiatives like the Tiny Home Village and the contemplated safe outdoor spaces where people can sleep in approved campsites are “enabling … sanctioning … and protecting” homelessness. At the same time, he said, “folks paying their taxes” are leaving.

“We’re incentivizing the wrong things; we’re not incentivizing hard work, responsibility, being responsible taxpayers, being responsible members of our community,” Benson said. “We’re saying, ‘All right, everybody who does all that, great, we don’t want to hear you. We want your tax money, and we’re going to spend it and support all the crime and destruction in our beautiful city.'”

Commissioner Debbie O’Malley – who helped spearhead the Tiny Home Village – had the final comment before the vote. She challenged the notion that there were too many resources for people living on the streets, a population she said was likely only going to increase given the mounting disparity between wages and housing costs. She said she would not “stand in judgment” of people living in poverty and that too many people complain about seeing homelessness but often reject potential solutions “in their backyard.”

“Incentivizing homelessness? That’s the first time I’ve ever heard anything like that,” she said. “If we incentivize anything, it’s usually businesses to help create jobs. … What I think we are doing – and this is my approach – is (to) approach from a sense of compassion for people who have nothing. Nothing.”

She joined Quezada, Charlene Pyskoty and Adriann Barboa in approving $500,000 each year.

NET GAINS: The city of Albuquerque says New Mexico United has now paid its outstanding bill.

The city earlier this month had to issue a second invoice to the professional soccer team for some of the public costs associated with transitioning Isotopes Park between baseball games and United games. United owed specifically for the city’s removal and reinstallation of safety netting along the left- and right-field lines throughout the 2021 season. While needed for baseball, the soccer team and its fans had complained the netting at the city-owned park would hurt the soccer-viewing experience.

As the Journal recently reported, the first bill for $70,878 was not paid by the Feb. 19 due date.

But a city official said last week that United had paid after the city sent a second invoice.


Jessica Dyer: jdyer@abqjournal.com

 

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Housing project divides county commissioners


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 yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Albuquerque redistricting committee to take final vote
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque's citizen redistricting committee is slated ... Albuquerque's citizen redistricting committee is slated to take its final vote Wednesday, deciding what it thinks is the best way to reshape the city's ...
2
Teen charged in shooting threat at Edgewood school
ABQnews Seeker
A 17-year-old allegedly threatened to shoot ... A 17-year-old allegedly threatened to shoot up a school earlier this month in Edgewood. State Police spokeswoman Candace Hopkins said Emma Haviland, of Edgewood, ...
3
TOP OF MIND: What do you think of the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Click here to tell us: ... Click here to tell us: What do you think of the governor's opposition to bringing migrants to N.M. at this time? Responses must ...
4
APD creates unit to target road rage, aggressive driving
ABQnews Seeker
with a way for the public ... with a way for the public to submit evidence — as detectives search for the shooters in two recent road-rage incidents on Interstate 40. ...
5
Woman charged in 2020 ABQ homicide
ABQnews Seeker
Detectives arrested a woman for her ... Detectives arrested a woman for her alleged role in the fatal shooting of a man in 2020 outside an apartment complex on West Central. ...
6
Details emerge in Sunday shootings after more video is ...
ABQnews Seeker
Police say a man who is ... Police say a man who is suspected of killing his wife may have killed himself. They initially had charged the couple's son in the ...
7
Official: Upgrades urged at Amtrak crash site, but no ...
ABQnews Seeker
The chief elected official in the ... The chief elected official in the Missouri county where an Amtrak train slammed into a dump truck said Tuesday that residents and county leaders ...
8
'National Treasure' series filming in Santa Fe
ABQnews Seeker
The search for treasure continues. The ... The search for treasure continues. The New Mexico State Film Office announced that the Disney+ series, 'National Treasure' is filming in and around Santa ...
9
NM primary election results certified as November election looms
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico closed the books — ... New Mexico closed the books — for the most part — on a primary election cycle marked by conspiracy theories and legal warnings, as ...