The Martinez family was the talk of the town 14 years ago. ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover went to Albuquerque and built the Martinez family a brand-new home. They were known for opening up their doors to homeless people living in the “War Zone.””Someone from a church here in town nominated us they found out some of the work we were doing,” Liesa Reece (formerly Martinez) said. Within a week, the show built the family a new home and a homeless shelter in the middle of one of the toughest blocks in the city. The show also demolished 10 condemned homes that are now newly built low-income housing. “I have to believe that even if we helped change one person’s life, that had to have been worth it,” Reece said.But the dream of changing the neighborhood is over. In 2012 tragedy struck the family, Reece’s husband Gerald, who started the mission, died from cancer. “Before he died, even Gerald said this isn’t working. We’re being taken advantage of. Where we’re enabling too much,” Reece said. Reece said crime and homelessness were getting worse just before her husband’s death.”Some of the people that we helped the most were the ones that became the most vicious. They became entitled that we owed them something,” Reece said. After Gerald died, Reece stopped housing the homeless on her property. She said the area around her has not gotten better. “Absolutely. Without a doubt. It’s never been this bad,” Reece said. Just across from Reece’s home is a homeless camp. According to a report by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, the number of homeless people on the streets of Albuquerque has increased 33% since 2013, the year after Gerald died. “Homelessness is pretty bad. The count we do is an undercount. As you could probably figure, we don’t find everybody when we’re out doing the count,” Hank Hughes said. Hughes is the executive director of the coalition to end homelessness, which conducts a homeless survey every year.“I would think that they’ll continue to rise for a little while,” Hughes said. The problem is so bad that the city solid waste department is cleaning up a homeless camp blocks away from Reece’s home. “I had a regular home, you know,” Blue, a homeless man, said. Blue has been living near Reece’s home for 13 years, he said his camp is moved weekly, but he keeps coming back. “Put me in one place — a football field area, anything like that,” Blue said. Reece now uses her extra space at her home for weddings. But she still wants to find a solution to a problem her husband was passionate about. “Something needs to be done. And I want to be a part of this something. Whatever’s going on, it’s not working,” Reece said.

The Martinez family was the talk of the town 14 years ago.

ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover went to Albuquerque and built the Martinez family a brand-new home.

They were known for opening up their doors to homeless people living in the “War Zone.”

“Someone from a church here in town nominated us they found out some of the work we were doing,” Liesa Reece (formerly Martinez) said.

Within a week, the show built the family a new home and a homeless shelter in the middle of one of the toughest blocks in the city.

The show also demolished 10 condemned homes that are now newly built low-income housing.

“I have to believe that even if we helped change one person’s life, that had to have been worth it,” Reece said.

But the dream of changing the neighborhood is over.

In 2012 tragedy struck the family, Reece’s husband Gerald, who started the mission, died from cancer.

“Before he died, even Gerald said this isn’t working. We’re being taken advantage of. Where we’re enabling too much,” Reece said.

Reece said crime and homelessness were getting worse just before her husband’s death.

“Some of the people that we helped the most were the ones that became the most vicious. They became entitled that we owed them something,” Reece said.

After Gerald died, Reece stopped housing the homeless on her property.

She said the area around her has not gotten better.

“Absolutely. Without a doubt. It’s never been this bad,” Reece said.

Just across from Reece’s home is a homeless camp.

According to a report by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, the number of homeless people on the streets of Albuquerque has increased 33% since 2013, the year after Gerald died.

“Homelessness is pretty bad. The count we do is an undercount. As you could probably figure, we don’t find everybody when we’re out doing the count,” Hank Hughes said.

Hughes is the executive director of the coalition to end homelessness, which conducts a homeless survey every year.

“I would think that they’ll continue to rise for a little while,” Hughes said.

The problem is so bad that the city solid waste department is cleaning up a homeless camp blocks away from Reece’s home.

“I had a regular home, you know,” Blue, a homeless man, said.

Blue has been living near Reece’s home for 13 years, he said his camp is moved weekly, but he keeps coming back.

“Put me in one place — a football field area, anything like that,” Blue said.

Reece now uses her extra space at her home for weddings.

But she still wants to find a solution to a problem her husband was passionate about.

“Something needs to be done. And I want to be a part of this something. Whatever’s going on, it’s not working,” Reece said.



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