Santa Fe officials consider city-endorsed homeless camps: ‘This is an issue in our community’

By New Mexico Sun Report

Apr 4, 2023

An issue that was hotly debated in Albuquerque is now a topic of discussion in Santa Fe as officials mull city-endorsed homeless camps in the city.

Councilor Jamie Cassutt told KRQE the plan is to create a safe place for the homeless to sleep, modeled after Albuquerque’s “safe outdoor spaces.” According to the news outlet, the measure was introduced by Cassutt, Mayor Alan Webber, and Councilor Renee Villareal.

“This is an issue in our community, we know this is an issue in our community,” Cassutt said, according to KRQE. ‘We hear from people every day asking for us to solve this problem.”

Cassutt told the news outlet the homeless issue has been on the rise in Santa Fe, particularly at Railyard Park and along the Cerrillos Road corridor, and the city is forced to direct resources to the problem.

The news outlet noted that an annual study in January tallied 260 people living on the streets, while estimates of the actual homeless population are much higher.

The proposed spaces, according to the report, would feature structures that could provide private sleeping areas, restrooms, and other basic necessities and around-the-clock security.

Sponsors of the proposal point out that the focus of the plan is to provide the homeless with a way to move toward permanent housing, according to KRQE, and the resolution seeks input from city officials to identify a location for the camps and groups that could operate them.

The report also noted the camp locations would forge an agreement with the neighborhoods and input would be sought from the public. However, the news outlet noted not everyone is pleased with the plan.

“I would say that most neighborhoods when we talk to them they say not here,” Cassutt told KRQE.

However, there are members of the community who maintain the plan has merit, according to the report. Cassutt told KRQE the plan doesn’t have a budget, and the City Council will take up the issue at an upcoming meeting.