Homeless take shelter in idle city house

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – City officials have made it clear, they don’t want problem homes, and they want people to come downtown again. But there’s a rundown home for everyone to see downtown. It’s a crime magnet and the city owns it.

There’s plywood covering some of the windows, but that’s not keeping people out. It’s clear, the abandoned home in downtown Albuquerque is not so abandoned.

The house sits along the old Route 66 corridor. The city-owned home has become a hub for the homeless.

Brian Fejer lives nearby.

“You don’t know what people are doing in there, if there’s drugs in there, criminal activity,” said Fejer.

Fejer said he’s called the city’s 311 hotline for the past month. Still, the home that sits near the corner of 4th Street and Coal Avenue remains open to anyone.

The front windows are shattered, glass is strewn about. There are kid’s toys inside, a mattress brought in, clothes, and beer cans on the floor.

“I think the first step in revitalizing downtown is taking care of this homeless problem and getting these people the help and resources they need,” explained Fejer.

There’s not many houses close by that look like this one. In fact it sits in the middle of an empty parking lot, right out in the open in downtown Albuquerque.

The city bought the home for about $230,000 in 1994. Officials say plans for the historic property are in the works.

“I would say that good things are coming from that site soon, you know we understand residents concerns about this,” explained Rebecca Velarde, Metropolitan Redevelopment Manager for the City of Albuquerque.

The city plans to demolish the home, then sell the property to a private developer. “We’re really excited to finally redevelop it,” said Velarde.

Meanwhile, boarding up the windows didn’t work. Now overgrown with weeds, the home is also a target for vandals.

“It’s probably safer than being on the street, but at the same time it’s owned by the City of Albuquerque. It’s not a homeless shelter, it’s an abandoned house,” said Fejer.

Velarde said the city hopes to demolish the home within the next couple weeks, and they’ll look at putting up a temporary fence in the meantime.

City officials will meet next month to discuss proposals for the property. There’s no timeline yet for when residents can expect to see something new there.

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