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Advocates: Development Threatens Affordable Housing

Ed Williams/KUNM
Affordable housing advocates gathered on St. Michaels Dr. in Santa Fe to demand protections for renters. "If my rent goes any higher I will probably have to move to Albuquerque," said one protester.

Affordable housing advocates gathered in Santa Fe Thursday to protest Mayor Javier Gonzales' new plan to revitalize certain areas of town. The protesters say the plan could gentrify a low-income part of the capital city.

It’s no secret Santa Fe is an expensive place to live. Natoshia Whylie, who rents a home near St. Michaels Drive, says it’s almost too expensive.

“My rent’s already a lot, and if it goes any higher I probably will have to move to Albuquerque,” she said.

Whylie and a renters rights group called the Chainbreaker Collective are criticizing the mayor's plan to give incentives to developers in this area in an effort to attract more businesses.

“Our concern is that as that kind of development happens it often drives up rents, it often drives up property values,” said Chainbreaker organizer Tomás Rivera. “And when that happens adjacent to our neighborhood, which is the lowest income neighborhood in the city, people can’t afford it so they leave en masse.”

Rivera says the protesters support many of the mayor’s policies, but are demanding protections for renters in low-income neighborhoods.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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