ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Students at Amy Biehl High School are proud of their school, but say it does come with its problems.
“I see a lot of needles everywhere downtown, you see homeless asking people for money and sometimes you’ll see drug deals going on,” said Santiago Carrillo, a senior at Amy Beihl.
“I have seen people like sleeping on the sidewalks or the needles all around or even people coming to talk to me just because they needed someone to talk to,” said Courtney Graber, a senior at Amy Beihl.
Carrillo, Graber and Ulises Portillo, another senior KRQE News 13 spoke with, were all inspired to try and help solve the homelessness problem they see around their school every day.
“Hopefully, get them a new job opportunity that they can be sustained, have their own housing and be an individual person,” said Portillo, when talking about his volunteer work at Saint Martin’s.
Hoping to clean up around their school and solve the problem on a larger scale, Portillo, Carillo, and Amy Beihl Principal Frank McCulloch, had a meeting with Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton.
“He would answer our questions but he wouldn’t speak about how we could do it,” said Carillo.
Carillo and Portillo say they were disappointed after the meeting and were hoping for a clearer plan on how to fix the issue.
“We were looking for more of like, how they can help us and we can help them, but that didn’t really happen,” said Carillo.
“The meeting with the students and the principal I thought went really well. We met for a good long meeting. So, I was surprised when they were saying I’m not doing enough but I will just say what I have been doing,” said Isaac Benton.
Benton cites his work of coordinating programs that help the homeless, his co-sponsorship of affordable housing in the city, and securing funding to start a pilot program for a shuttle that will take homeless people to services they need.
“The overall problem is a large one and a very complicated one,” said Benton.
Benton says he understands the students’ desire to solve this problem, but says there is no quick solution for this problem.
He also says the problems going on around Amy Beihl are “not okay” and fixing them will take a joint effort between the city, the school and Albuquerque Police.
The students say they plan to continue to work to make this problem better, and their principal is proud of that.
“Partly, what’s so impressive about my students is that they’re so empathetic. They’re not concerned about just moving vagrants along getting them away from our school but they really are looking at the underlying issues,” said Frank McCulloch, Principal and Executive Director of Amy Biehl High School.