The Albuquerque area needs 13,000 to 33,000 units to meet housing supply. And private companies, namely developers, must work hand in hand with the city of Albuquerque to deal with this crisis.
Those were the words of Mayor Tim Keller Wednesday morning at the Albuquerque Economic Forum as he made his pitch to business leaders and developers on his new housing initiative, Housing Forward ABQ, to bring 5,000 new units to the city by 2025 – primarily through hotel redevelopment and changing zoning codes to allow casita development.
The mayor, in a speech that lasted nearly 45 minutes, also touched on crime, homelessness and the Albuquerque Rail Trail.
“We’re small enough that, theoretically, you can find a nice place to live. … But the challenge is running out of houses,” Keller said. “…Because of our growth, (housing) is a crisis.”
That growth, Keller told business leaders, has come in the form of about 40 new people moving to the Albuquerque area every day. He said the city was a “net winner” coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic – with millennials now working in remote jobs but wanting to live in an affordable city that has an outdoor experience on par with places like Denver.
Keller said the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance, which sets out zoning and subdivision regulations, is outdated and needs to be reworked to allow for expansion of Albuquerque’s housing supply.
He called the redevelopment of hotels into housing units vital to increase supply, but said it was a “low hanging fruit” for the city, adding that public- private are essential to the future of the initiative. Keller said the IDO has driven developers away from procurement over the past few years.
“The city of Albuquerque is terrible about it,” Keller said. “We add $100,000 to each unit – each unit – to convert with additional building code regulations compared to other cities. That’s why the private sector doesn’t do it already.
Keller acknowledged on Monday that crime remains the city’s biggest problem — and a primary focus of his administration.
He said the Albuquerque Police Department arrested more homicide suspects than in previous years. This is due to various crime-fighting efforts, including bolstering the Homicide Unit and implementing technology throughout the city, such as gunshot detectors and additional cameras.
The mayor also said police recruitment was not as problematic as retention, with many APD officers retiring after 20 years. To remedy this, the city has offered additional incentives to officers who stay with the department for an additional five years.