ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A homeless advocate claims the city of Albuquerque has pulled out as a sponsor for his group’s annual pre-Thanksgiving Dinner over criticism of Mayor Richard Berry.
Joy Junction founder Jeremy Reynalds said late Wednesday that the city recently notified him it would no longer give the group free space at the Albuquerque Convention Center for the event that attracts 1,200 each year.
“It was absolutely shocked,” Reynalds said. “We were informed that they wouldn’t sponsor the event anymore, and I really think it’s because I’ve been vocal about Berry. He’s not a hero of the homeless he tries to portray himself.”
He and Berry have publicly clashed over the mayor’s policies addressing homelessness. Reynalds has said Albuquerque should do more to battle chronic homelessness and help those fighting drug addiction.
Berry spokeswoman Rhiannon Samuel declined to address the accusations leveled by Reynalds. She said the city sponsors a number of events around homelessness and can’t fund them all.
“The city partners with numerous homeless organizations on a variety of initiative and events. We wish we could fund the countless requests we receive, but unfortunately we do not have unlimited resources,” Samuel said.
The event will go on with the help of a property owner.
Peterson Properties has agreed to pay the $6,000 fee to the Albuquerque Convention Center, Reynalds said. “The event will go on so I’m not worried about that,” he said.
Berry has earned national praise for Albuquerque’s There’s a Better Way program — a project that hires homeless people for day jobs working to beautify city areas. Participants earn around $9 a day and receive overnight shelter.