The People’s Housing Project made some progress with the city council this week as Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn proposed a memorandum to urge the state legislature to pass a law that allows rent control and its enforcement in Albuquerque. Councilors will vote on the memorandum at the next meeting, set for Oct.17. Organizers, who have been at meetings since the city commenced in person, thanked the council and urged them to vote in favor of the memorial.
Public comment also brought, for the first time, people who are against the memorandum, including the director and president of the Apartment Association, who cited the cost of inflation with things like maintenance issues contributing to the cost of rent going up. A representative from the Commercial Real Estate Association also spoke against the memorandum, saying that the solution is not rent control but to increase the supply of all housing.
Councilor Louie Sanchez spoke to the people who spoke in favor of the memorandum and said he appreciates everything they’re doing, adding that he wants to sit and have major discussions about the housing issue. He also said the state is currently flush with money and that those resources clearly need to go into new affordable housing.
The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority explained the need for new affordable housing to be built and their strategy to tackle the need. The MFA explained rent growth has far outpaced income growth, which affects families. Rent and the cost of homes have risen from 40-42%. The number of homes needed statewide is around 32,000, while 15,000 homes are needed in Bernalillo county alone. The MFA hopes to get some funding for supporting more vouchers for people with mental illnesses and disabilities, as well as funding to better the 25 shelters the MFA helps operate throughout the state.
Councilor Brook Bassan asked the administration and the New Mexico Department of Transportation why bus schedules have not been updated to reflect the driver and subsequent route schedule shortages that affect people that rely on that form of transportation. The new director of NMDOT said covering this weeks Balloon Fiesta has affected the bus routes, and the department is trying to increase its communication with the public in getting up-to-date-information on the ABQRide site so folks can see the updated schedules and routes in real time.
Public comment also brought a citizen from District 2 who said her neighbor has been terrorizing her neighborhood and nothing is being done about it. Furthermore, she explained if something is not done, that this situation will most likely end tragedy as the neighbor, who allegedly has mental issues, has threatened multiple people in their area.
Sanchez said the same kind of issue is going with a homeowner in his district and that police have also not responded or done anything in the long term about it. He also wants to know why and requested that the Albuquerque Police Departments follows up about both situations.
Mayor’s veto against defunding the Safe Outdoor Spaces
Councilors also voted on the mayor’s veto to reallocate funding back to the Safe Outdoor Spaces program. The funding was originally appropriated to the program, and Councilor Dan Lewis proposed the money be allocated to homeless veteran services instead, with it passing the last council meeting. Mayor Tim Keller vetoed that action last month, and a vote to override the veto failed on a 5-4 vote. Six votes were needed for a successful override.