City leaders recently proposed a plan for new “Safe Outdoor Spaces” to help tackle the mounting homelessness problem in Albuquerque. The spaces would involve unused open spaces and parking lots that would be converted to temporary housing. This week, local residents were asked: “What are your thoughts on the proposed ‘Safe Outdoor Spaces’ for the homeless?”
Loretta Grunt, a local resident walking her dog Annie at Academy Hills Park, said, “I think it is a good idea. It’s better than having them wandering the streets in your neighborhood. But I think they should maybe do a job at the [Safe Outdoor Space]. Nothing huge, just maybe watch the front gate for a few hours, or help with cleaning up. Just something they can take pride in.”
Though lovely, Grunt declined to be photographed, saying, “I look awful today.”
Walking with Grunt was longtime friend and local resident Janice Todhunter and her dog Buddy. Todhunter said, “It’s a good idea. We need to respond to people in need. It’s good to have an alternative to just locking them up.”
She also looked lovely but likewise declined a photograph. “If she isn’t getting a photo, I’m not either,” she said, pointing at Loretta.
Retired local resident Wade Ray and his dog Ace were also walking the wide pedestrian track that encircles Academy Hills Park. He said, “It’s probably a good idea. At least it’s controlled. They have a place to go. [It] could help with crime.”
John and Marisol Strater were at the playground with their 2-year-old son Aidan. Their new little family recently moved to the Academy Hills Park area. “We come from Portland, so we know homelessness, but we were surprised it was so bad here,” said Marisol.
An anonymous jogger stopped briefly to answer the question. “Yeah, right. When was the last time these [local politicians] got anything done?”
John Strater chimed in next saying, “[The anonymous jogger] makes a good point, but it still seems like a good idea. And they could probably do it fast.”
This story was written by Neighborhood Journal contributor Taylor Hood.