Housing For All
Two recent stories in the Weekly Alibi (the Safe City Strike Force story, aptly titled "Appetite for Destruction," by Tim McGivern in the June 2-8 Alibi, and the Del Rey Mobile Home Park victory story, titled "Turf War," by Christie Chisholm in the June 9-15 Alibi) shed light on a serious issue confronting our community: the loss of real and potential affordable, economically diverse housing in Albuquerque at the hands of both the city and private developers, and the need for the community to demand a city response to that loss.
The Safe City Strike Force boasts how "with a little luck in the next three to four months we'll have three motels taken down." But at what costs to our public safety and to the diversity of our community? The Strike Force, by closing down "nuisance" motels, single family homes and apartment buildings without accounting for the well-being of those evicted, is actually making our streets less safe and working counter to its stated intentions. There is nothing "safe" about living on the street, and there is nothing safe about creating more homeless people in Albuquerque. Until the city adopts a comprehensive plan for replacing these lost housing units for our low-income neighbors, our streets and our neighborhoods will continue to become more dangerous as people who are evicted from nuisance properties—the majority of whom are not criminals—end up homeless or fall victim to the next unscrupulous landlord.
No one should live in unsafe, derelict and substandard housing, but the actions of the Safe City Strike Force do not account for the planned redevelopment of affordable housing to replace the low-income units just destroyed. Rather, once the vacated property or land is sold, the next step is uncoordinated and unchecked redevelopment: a loft, condo or other development that most of us, including, most importantly, the low-income people who were just evicted, cannot afford. As low-income people are forced out of their housing, the city must be responsible to them as part of our whole community, developing plans that help to embrace the social and economic diversity that makes Albuquerque a great place to live. A "revitalized urban landscape" needs to include the entire community, not just those who can afford to live in a "trendy corridor."
Our entire community, especially those whose housing is at risk, must send a message to the mayor and the Council: we will not stand idly by while our housing is demolished or bought out from under us, and we demand that the city find a way to accomplish economic development and public safety goals while living up to its responsibility to preserve our community, promote economic diversity and ensure that we all have safe and affordable housing. One excellent way to deliver this message, especially in election season, is to register to vote. Let your elected officials know that you have registered to vote, show up at campaign events and demand answers. And vote on election day.