The People’s Housing Project protested the lack of action the city council has taken toward the housing crisis outside Monday’s meeting in Civic Plaza. Around 50 protest participants pleaded with the council to support and pass a resolution for the state legislature to end the prohibition on rent control.
The organization has been at public comment by the dozens explaining the challenges for homeless and vulnerable residents. The PHP said a council-approved resolution would carry a lot of weight with state legislators. The organization also has 11 other demands, such as banning short-term rentals or exorbitant application fees and pet deposits, and to require landlords to take housing vouchers. No mention of the People’s Housing Project demands or protest was made during the meeting besides the public comment session.
Presentations and questions
Councilor Klarissa Peña, District 3, asked the Albuquerque Housing Authority to do a presentation on how the department owns, manages and operates more than 1,000 units through the affordable public housing program. The department also stated they oversee more than 4,000 housing vouchers throughout the city. Half of the people served by the AHA are disabled and a quarter are elderly, with 70% women head of household making $14,000 to $15,000 per year.
Some of the locations managed by the AHA have waiting lists have of up to 2,700 people. As of 2020, there was a lack of 32,000 affordable rental units statewide to meet the needs of renters with 30% of area median incomes or less. The city also has a gap of 15,500 affordable housing units for low-income households.
The department was able to approve the increase of payment standards, including funds to help with application fees, and extend the time allowed to use vouchers because the time it takes to find affordable housing that accepts vouchers currently often exceeds the maximum time a voucher is good for.
The AHA admits they’re currently only able to help 10% of the 15,500 needing affordable units or being able to help the majority of the low-income population of Albuquerque at risk of homelessness. However, the AHA does have a number of other developments becoming available over the next two years with some sites holding up to 84 units.
• Councilor Trudy Jones, District 8, introduced the CIT ECHO project presentation that helps to better train the Albuquerque Police Department through online sessions to deal with behavioral health and substance abuse calls and issues to obtain greater outcomes when dealing with vulnerable community members.
• Councilor Renee Grout had questions for Solid Waste Management in regards to their staffing status and the ongoing trash issue, as well as why prison inmate trash pickup programs and community service trash cleanup are not currently being utilized.
The department stated that they’re at 24% vacancy rate and have utilized temp agencies to initiate the clean city division cleanup for the Balloon Fiesta and State Fair.
A year prior to the pandemic, the department got away from using inmates because of the expenses required to staff the programs to monitor inmates. Additionally, the locations they’re able to cover are very limited because of the need to keep them away from schools and parks. The city once used inmates on the highways and in the Bosque for city cleanup, but the department also mentioned the Metropolitan Detention Center is also greatly understaffed by 40% and are not able to implement programs like city cleanup at this time. The department said that the city is offering speed camera ticket recipients the chance to do city cleanup instead of paying the cost of their speeding ticket, but did not state if other offenders serving community service are able to do city cleanup as well.
The council approved numerous reports and pursuances, including the collective bargaining agreement for prison transport officers and with the International Association of Firefighters Local 244 passing unanimously. The civilian police oversight semi-annual report was passed, as was the report from the Arroyo Ditch and Water Safety Task Force.
Final action adopting a zoning map amendment at 10035 Country Club Land NW in order to facilitate future redevelopment was passed 6-3.
The council passed to enact and amend Map A for city redistricting on a 7-2 vote. Committee representatives said the new district mapping will go into effect sometime next month, within five days of its publication in the next three weeks.