"Human Defecation and Urine Press Conference and Tour" FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 23 Dec 1997 07:06:58 -0800 (PST)

=46WD  Saturday, December 20, 1997

                Residents Protest Homeless Shelter
                By Troy Goodman
                Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

Wells Park residents didn't let snow and cold temperatures Saturday stop
them from protesting the existence of a homeless shelter in their
Albuquerque  neighborhood.  About 10 people gathered at the Wells Park
Community Center for the "Human Defecation and Urine Press Conference and
Tour" to talk about problems they say are caused by homeless people.  Many
of the homeless, they say, often use St. Martin's Hospitality Center, a
private, nonprofit shelter on Third Street a short distance from the
community center.

After the gathering, a few residents escorted news reporters to a First
Street appliance store, in the shadow of Interstate 40 and next to a shanty
town that borders the Downtown railroad tracks. Feces lay on the sidewalk
in front of the store.  Jeffrey Rich Mu=F1oz, a member of the Wells Park
Neighborhood Association, said he believed it to be human feces.

The neighborhood association and many business owners believe the homeless
attracted by St. Martin's are responsible for public defecation, crime and
vandalism in the area from Mountain Road to the interstate, and from the
railroad tracks to 12th Street.  The group has launched a campaign to close
the shelter and convince city councilors to locate homeless shelters in
other areas of the city.

"I agree with what (St. Martin's) is trying to do," explained Andy
Gutierres, who owns a pawn shop in the area. "But if the city wants to
spend billions of dollars redeveloping this area, they have to get rid of
the transients."  Tony Louderbough, executive director of St. Martin's, who
didn't attend the news conference, said in a phone interview that his group
of social workers and homeless counselors don't want to be in the business
of providing overnight

The center's primary mission is to provide meals for the homeless,
counseling and job assistance.  Yet, the area's other homeless shelters
just can't hold the increasing number of transient individuals and homeless
families, he said.
"We want out of the shelter business," Louderbough said. "But it's more
inhumane not to do it."

St. Martin's, which costs about $375,000 a year to run, receives about a
third of its operating money from the city and the rest from health-care
sources and nonprofit organizations, Louderbough said.