There was a community meeting with people in the Pecos neighborhood and District 3 City Councilor (Becki Graham), so that the people of the community could tell what has been happening in their neighborhood since the homeless housing project was opened there last summer. I facilitated the meeting, and the city councilor brought along a bunch of other people: Mayor Pro Tem Gandara, many police officers, people from the affordable housing committee, the head of housing for City of Las Cruces Natalie Green, and many others.
We purposely structured the meeting so that the community would be able to speak instead of letting the officials take over. So all of those people got to hear the community members talking about the many issues they are experiencing including break-ins, robberies, broken windows, needles and trash being left all over, people trying to enter their homes in the middle of the night, aggressive panhandling (including a man demanding money with a baseball bat), kids scared to go outside, etc.
There was also someone in attendance who lives at the housing project and is working to reform his own life. He is also experiencing many issues with people trying to get in his apartment, being aggressive, on drugs, etc. He also talked about all of the many services that were promised but never actually provided. There was supposed to be a property manager there as well as many services being offered, but none of that has even happened. They basically just built the project, put people there, and then left it with no resources for managing the situation. Makes me think of the Hunger Games, it is awful.
Anyhow, I think the meeting overall was very good. The officials were somewhat annoyed that they were not allowed to speak for long, but in the end they seemed to be interested in actually helping. The city finally just hired a property manager for the apartments; I hope it is someone with a backbone and that it leads to some immediate improvements. We shall see…