Lawmakers differ on solving New Mexico’s homeless problem

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Cities across New Mexico are dealing with a growing homeless problem and state lawmakers are looking for solutions. Research shows Albuquerque has one of the fastest-growing homeless populations in the country, but lawmakers have different ideas on how to fix it.

“Crime, especially drug-related crime, is very much connected to homelessness, and we’re looking at those issues,” said Rep. Gregg Schmedes, (R) Tijeras.

Republican Rep. Schmedes said he wants to tackle the issue by cracking down on the types of crimes associated with the homeless problem, such as drug use, property damage, theft and trespassing, and keep repeat offenders behind bars longer. His idea is a stark contrast from the other side of the aisle.

“If we don’t build informed shelters we are just wasting state funding on buildings we don’t normally use,” said Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil, (D) Albuquerque.

“Last year the state did not appropriate any money to help provide shelter to homeless veterans, and this year we want to break that,” said Sen. Bill Tallman, (D) Albuquerque.

Democrats who KRQE News 13 spoke to said homeless shelters are the way to fix this. There are bills to funnel money to the Department of Veteran Services to help homeless vets and to turn vacant buildings into shelters.

So far, however, there are no bills filed that specifically address Albuquerque’s issues. Albuquerque voters recently approved $14 million for a homeless shelter. The city wants the state to match it.

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