Here's what your neighbors deal with next to a tent city - Albuquerque Journal

Here’s what your neighbors deal with next to a tent city

My husband and I bought the Firestone building on Second and McKnight in 2014 to open a restaurant/brewery. At that time we wanted to be part of bringing life back to the Downtown area.

At that time there were less than a handful of homeless in the area. They were nonviolent, often would pull weeds for cash and kept to themselves.

Now in 2022 there is a major encampment a block away where over 100 homeless squatters have overtaken the skate park, a park that was paid for with our taxes and for the purpose of our families to enjoy the area – not to be a filthy needle-and-trash dump.

There are ample rooms and programs available for anyone who is homeless. But there are also rules such as no drugs, must shower, no alcohol – rules those on the street refuse to follow. They want to be left alone in their tents or on the sidewalk. They no longer are asking for food – they are high on drugs, break into property to fund their habits and have no respect for businesses or residential areas.

Having said that, I do believe the problem has become dangerous for my family, employees and patrons. In the last four months we have had to deal with the following:

• Twice the same lady was smoking fentanyl in the bathroom and refused to leave the building or parking lot. An employee had to chase her off with a fire extinguisher and Taser. She has thrown bottles at our employees and tried spitting on them.

• We have sent numerous photos of a person named “Ed” as he tosses glass bottles over our fence into our yard, defecates on our porch, leaves piles of feces by the door and peanut butter on the door handles. He tries to sneak in weekly and threatens staff and is loud and rude and filthy.

• A man came into the tap room/restaurant with a machete and threatened a shift manager. They called the police, but no reply. Had to chase him out carrying a bat.

• Our bathrooms are constantly being damaged and we find the homeless trying to bathe in the sinks.

• I passed a man across from the fire station laying on his back in the rain gutter, pants down to ankles and taking a crap.

• A man came in close to closing time wanting to use our phone because his was not charged. He was asked to wait for a ride in front but instead went out one door, back in another and while trying to sit at the bar dropped his open can of beer. Not our beer, and he was angry we kicked him out. He came back later that night and gratified every picnic table and slashed our sunscreen writing the word “HELP.”

• We are constantly finding people and their stacks of “stuff” sleeping on our sidewalks or patio.

• (April 21) a lady with a cart deliberately was trying to run into a car on Third Street and refused to get out of the road.

• There are three cars and a truck with a camper shell parked at the dog park – they do laundry and hang out all day and night.

It is absolutely disgusting to see people living in such a way. If there were not so many programs already in the city I would feel greater empathy, but they have options.

Now the city sends out eight to 10 trucks and a crew every Wednesday to clean up the park. This is great, but they allow them to go back into the park. Taxpayers paid for a skatepark and now must pay to maintain the park for the homeless.

Therefore, I agree, find a place they can camp and maintain without costing the taxpayers. But do not put a camp anywhere near residences or businesses. Unless you plan to lock them in, they will only continue stealing and bringing fear into the area.

This is a major problem for everyone. We need to get … the homeless off our sidewalks. They do not have the right to take over public parks paid for by the citizens. The double standard treatment for hard-working citizens … and the freeloaders … is just wrong.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Here’s what your neighbors deal with next to a tent city

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