But that changed when on Thursday the lot owner, Chad Renneker, said he did not want the new camp his property.
Initially, the Barelas Community Coalition came to a unanimous decision during an open meeting Tuesday night to allow the residents of Tent City to move their camp to an empty lot a few blocks south. The announcement was made Wednesday night, and was followed by a celebratory potluck provided by nonprofit group Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice.
Locals and Tent City inhabitants marched from the old location on First Street and Iron Street to the lot on the corner of Second Street and Santa Fe Avenue.
The initial excitement of finding a new, privately owned property where residents had permission to stay quickly disappeared when the owner made it clear that he had not given his permission.
Renneker, an out-of-state developer in Portland, Oregon, did not want to take on the many liabilities that came with the new camp, said Rodrigo Rodriguez, community organizer for the SouthWest Organizing Project.
Even afterRenneker's announcement, Vincent Saint Vincent, spokesperson for the BCC, said that the new settlement, dubbed Camp Faith, is not going anywhere.
“We’re not asking for hand-outs, we’re asking for options,” Vincent said.
Although Vincent claimed that most of the community supports the new inhabitants, there are still many that are uneasy about the new camp.
One Barelas community resident, Theresa — whose name has been changed for her privacy and security — said she doesn’t let her children outside unless she’s watching them. She has a small toddler and a newborn.
Theresa lives only a few blocks away from Camp Faith. Even before Tent City moved there had always been a high amount of homeless traffic near the Rail Yards, she said.
Her car has been broken into twice, and she said she often finds people sleeping behind her house.
“Sometimes it’s very scary,” she said.
While Theresa has never had any confrontations with homeless people, it is still uncomfortable, she said.
Kimberly Gallegos, who also calls herself “Wondercat,” is a Camp Faith resident. Gallegos said she understands the Barelas residents’ concerns. Gallegos’ family has lived in that neighborhood since the 1930s.
Gallegos expressed frustration about the eviction notices the city served to Tent City residents, which were written only in English. A majority of the residents only spoke Spanish, she said.
“I’m from here; this is my home. I very much care about what happens here, not only for the people in the tents but for the residents,” she said. “I respect this neighborhood and its name.”
Barelas resident Eduardo Ville said the moving of Tent City was not a good idea, and he is concerned for the safety of other residents.
“I mean, it’s ok, they need to find a place to live, but they need to have rules,” Ville said. “They need to be good citizens, respect the others.”
For now the residents of Camp Faith will continue living in the new lot, biding their time, hoping they can peacefully coexist with the rest of the community.
Moriah Carty is the assistant culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MoriahCarty.
J.R. Oppenheim, managing editor, and Lauren Marvin, culture editor, contributed to this report.