The New Mexico Sun Dinelli Guest Column: ‘Safe Outdoor Spaces’ Not Even A Stopgap To Albuquerque’s Homelessness Crisis”

At the invitation of the New Mexico Sun and with mutual agreement is delighted to announce that it will be submitting from time-to-time guest opinion columns for publication without payment to the on-line news agency The New Mexico Sun. For the last 4 years, Pete Dinelli has submitted guest columns to the Albuquerque Journal and they have been published. Both publications have the exclusive right to decide what guest columns will be published. Guest columns to be submitted will be on local, state and perhaps national issues.

The postscript below provides more information about the New Mexico Sun and provides a link to the publication.

Below is the very first published guest column with the New Mexico Sun:

Headline: ‘Safe Outdoor Spaces’ not even a stopgap to Albuquerque’s homelessness crisis

By Pete Dinelli
Jun 8, 2022

“Research shows that housing is the most effective approach to end homelessness with a much larger return on investment than offering government sanctioned encampments and “tent cities”. Given the millions the city is spending each year, it needs to continue with the approach of offering programs, building shelter space and making beds available for its homeless population.

The city has a moral obligation to help the homeless, especially those who suffer from mental illness and drug addiction. The city is in fact meeting that moral obligation with the city spending upwards of $114 Million with housing assistance vouchers, mental health care services and shelter for the homeless.

Albuquerque is making a huge financial commitment to help the homeless. Last year, it spent upwards of $40 million to benefit the homeless in housing and services. The 2023 proposed budget significantly increases funding for the homeless by going from $35,145,851 to $59,498,915. The city contracts with 10 separate homeless service providers throughout the city and it funds the Westside 24-7 homeless shelter.

The city has bought the 572,000-square-foot Lovelace Hospital Complex on Gibson for $15 million that currently has space of 200 beds or more and transforming it into the Gateway Center Homeless shelter. City officials have said that the city is expected to launch multiple services on the property this winter, including a 50-bed women’s shelter, a sobering center and a space designed to deliver “medical respite” care for individuals who would have no place other than a hospital to recover from illnesses and injury.

The massive facility could be remodeled even further to house the homeless and convert offices, treating rooms, operating rooms and treatment rooms into temporary housing accommodations. The onsite auditorium and cafeteria could also be utilized for counseling and feeding programs from service providers.

Too many elected and government officials who want to establish government sanction encampments have a hard time dealing with the facts that many homeless adults simply want to live their life as they choose, where they want to camp for as long as they can get away with it, without any government nor family interference and especially no government rules and no regulations.

The city cannot just ignore and not enforce its anti-camping ordinances, vagrancy laws, civil nuisance laws and criminal laws nor pretend they simply do not exist. Squatters who have no interest in any offers of shelter, beds, motel vouchers or alternatives to living on the street really give the city no choice but to make it totally inconvenient for them to “squat” anywhere they want and force them to move on. After repeated attempts to force them to move on and citations arrests are in order.

The homeless crisis will not be solved by the city, but it can and must be managed. Providing a very temporary place to pitch a tent, relieve themselves, bathe and sleep at night with rules they do not want nor will likely follow is not the answer to the homeless crisis. The answer is to provide the support services, including food and lodging, and mental health care needed to allow the homeless to turn their lives around, become productive self-sufficient citizens, no longer dependent on relatives or others.”

Pete Dinelli is a native of Albuquerque. He is a licensed New Mexico attorney with 27 years of municipal and state government service including as an assistant attorney general, assistant district attorney for violent crimes, city of Albuquerque deputy city attorney and chief public safety officer, Albuquerque city councilor, and several years in private practice.




The New Mexico Sun is part of the Sun Publishing group which is a nonprofit. The home page link is here

The New Mexico Sun provides the following “mission statement”:

“The New Mexico Sun was established to bring fresh light to issues that matter most to New Mexicans. It will cover the people, events, and wonders of our state.

Many New Mexico media outlets minimize or justify problematic issues based on the individuals involved or the power of their positions. Often reporters fail to ask hard questions, avoid making public officials uncomfortable, and then include only one side of a story. This approach doesn’t provide everything readers need to fully understand what is happening, why it matters, and how it will impact them or their families. Other important New Mexicans are often overlooked because they don’t wield the power or prestige deemed important to reporters.

The problem is, many media outlets glamorize our challenges, often to the point of making them seem okay. These same outlets focus on the political divides in our state rather than potential solutions.
In contrast, the New Mexico Sun brings a curiosity of what makes New Mexico and its people so unique. It will have a tenacious expectation of transparency and accountability from public officials.

There is a need to help readers understand New Mexico’s past, but only as a means of looking to a better future. The past is not a place to dwell with the thought that because things have always been a certain way they must therefore remain that way. The New Mexico Sun is focused on New Mexicans and their growing desire to see our state excel. It will provide coverage of their views – in their own words – and focus on fair, truthful reporting.

The New Mexico Sun is non-partisan and fact-based, and we don’t maintain paywalls that lead to uneven information sharing. We don’t publish quotes from anonymous sources that lead to skepticism about our intentions, and we don’t bother our readers with annoying ads about products and services from non-locals that they will never buy.

Instead, we make it easy for every New Mexican to tell us what’s important to them. With one click on our Community Newsmaker button, readers can pitch stories straight into our newsroom, or provide a letter to our editors that will attach to any story where the reader has useful information or insight to offer. This innovation ensures that the New Mexico Sun never strays far from what New Mexicans believe should be the real news.

Best of all, the New Mexico Sun celebrates what is great about our state. We highlight the local heroes, ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary things and make our community better. And we shed light on the abuses and annoyances—often by those in power—that our readers tell us put our state on a wrong path or undermine those who are trying to make New Mexico better.”

At the New Mexico Sun, we have one mission—to give a voice to every member of our community.”

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.