No Gateway Shelter at Lovelace Gibson
As many residents in District 6 are now aware, the mayor's office has been pushing- against its own established, acceptable parameters for this type of facility- for a new, 300-bed mega-shelter to potentially be placed in the old Lovelace Hospital, now known as the Gibson Medical Center.
This location is unacceptable for many reasons. Not only would it have to be leased by the city, but it abuts a densely-populated residential area of established neighborhoods, high-density apartments, townhomes, and senior centers in direct contrast to the City's claims that locations near neighborhoods were unfavorable.
District 6 has a long history of neglect and disenfranchisement at the hands of the City. What should be a vibrant, celebrated center of multi-ethnic residents, culturally diverse businesses, and historical value has instead been last on the radar for beautification projects, infrastructure, and safety. Somehow over the past decades, our area has become the unwilling home for numerous state and federal halfway houses, drug treatment facilities, methadone clinics, shelters, and most recently, the County pick for the pilot program of Tiny Home communities for the homeless, all despite neighborhood concerns of detrimental impact. As with all of these projects, the City has not come through with promises to monitor programs and has done little to nothing to ensure that these projects have not harmed our area. Instead, we have seen heightened crime, vandalism, neglect, and watched as businesses have closed and neighbors have fled. For the City to expect blind faith in their ability to run a successful shelter in the face of a dismal track record of maintaining District 6- instead funneling our tax dollars to more affluent areas while ignoring us- is a slap in the face. The City deserves no such faith.
The Mayor's office claims that opening a 300-bed shelter in our neighborhood will improve the homeless crisis here in Albuquerque. While this may be the case for some segments of the population, the office has failed to address what could happen if significantly more homeless than can be accommodated flow into the area. There are no contingency plans in place for excess numbers of people with nowhere to go when the shelter is full. There is also little consideration as to what will happen to these folks who are uninterested in the city's proposed daytime rehab and addiction therapy, job training, or betterment classes. Will they flow into neighborhood streets, local parks, or business lots? As it is, many parks in the areas between Gibson and Central are filled with trash, drug paraphernalia, and human waste, with police powerless to move the influx of people and taxpaying families driven out in frustration or fear. The City cannot even keep up summertime trash maintenance at Bullhead Park during the YAFL games...how are we to believe that the City can tackle the additional trash once the shelter is full and the homeless set up camps in nearby Bullhead as they do at the current city pickup at Coronado?
Ever since the Gateway Shelter has been proposed, City officials look to District 6 and condescendingly reminding us that "everyone needs to share the burden", yet very little sharing of said burden has been asked of Districts 1, 3, 4, or 5. How is it fair that two districts are pitted against one another in an unfair fight to add ever more stress to an already blighted set of communities; one emerging as victor while the loser faces ever more strain on resources, ghettoization further sets in, businesses close, and residents flee before falling property values render family homes worthless. It is indeed time to share the burden...this ill-advised mega-shelter needs to go into an area not already decimated by countless years of City neglect.