Martineztown is an historic and culturally-rich neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico, established around the same time the land became part of the United States in the Mexican-American War. Over 160 years later, parts of this unique community retain many of the characteristics of a traditional historic town. Unfortunately, this community has received unequal treatment from the City of Albuquerque, compared to other historic parts of the City that are more white and more affluent. Since the 1950s, the City has zoned this neighborhood of historic homes as industrial, and failed to adopt the protections that other culturally-rich parts of the City enjoy. The result is the deterioration of countless special places, and the erosion of Martineztown’s treasured social fabric.
Under the Fair Housing Act—which is Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act—the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is tasked with making sure recipients of its federal funds, such as Albuquerque, do not discriminate on the basis of race. Residents ask U.S. HUD to launch an investigation into the City’s failures and work with the City to right this wrong, including fixing its zoning code to accurately reflect the historic residential uses; creating a buffer between this low income, 71 percent minority community and the industrial facilities it has attracted there with its improper zoning; and preserving the neighborhood as a protected historic area under the zoning code.