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Santa Fe again considers creating safe outdoor space

Last year, Albuquerque authorities closed an encampment in the city's Coronado Park
Gino Gutierrez
Source NM
Last year, Albuquerque authorities closed an encampment in the city's Coronado Park

Santa Fe is once again considering establishing a safe outdoor space for people without housing.

Councilor Jamie Cassutt told KUNM that since the pandemic began, homelessness has increased.

"The city spends roughly $14 million a year addressing homelessness but not solving it," she said. That could mean cleaning up encampments, sending emergency services or police interactions.

Cassutt said from a public health perspective, safe outdoor spaces are one of many needed interventions. She said some people won't stay in shelters for reasons including lack of privacy or a place for pets. So she introduced a resolution in a city council meeting Wednesday that would start a process to find a site and work with social service providers.

"We can put up these pallet houses, these tiny homes, essentially, that are a place that people can lock their doors," she said. "And there will also be 24/7 supervision and services provided."

Similar proposals have proved controversial. Last year a proposal for an encampment at Santa Fe’s Midtown Campus was abandoned after opposition from nearby residents. Also, last year, two months after approving safe outdoor spaces, the Albuquerque City Council voted to stop them.

The resolution in Santa Fe will now be discussed in several committees. If it passes them, the city's governing body will vote on it later this month.

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.
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