Tags: austin | homelessness | ordinance | texas | camping | occupy movement

WashPost: Like Many Big Cities, Austin Grapples With Homelessness

Several volunteers gather to serve food to residents during community night dinner in Austin, Texas
Several volunteers gather to serve food to residents during community night dinner at Community First! Village near Austin. (Bronte Wittpenn/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 22 August 2019 10:27 PM

City officials in Austin, Texas, two months ago passed a controversial ordinance easing restrictions on "sitting, lying, and camping" in public places this summer, a move to decriminalize behavior associated with being homeless, though complaints from homeowners and business owners about the safety risks and health hazards has led to its reversal, The Washington Post reports.

An estimated 2,200 people are homeless in Austin, a 5% increase over last year's count. Like many other major cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., Austin is still grappling with the problem.

The council Tuesday introduced a new proposal to tackle the city's homelessness issue and addresses camping in public places and goals for housing resources.

Craig Staley, who operates Royal Grocery in Austin, told the Post he was reconsidering his affiliation to the Democratic Party because of the change.

"I got two emails last month from customers who said, 'I can't go to your store anymore because it smells like urine,'" he said.

"I am a Democrat at heart; I have been in Austin, Texas, for over 30 years. But I am telling you, I am feeling a lot more red these days when it comes to my business."

Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the county party, said officials thought "it would be compassionate and not a big deal, but it has been an absolute disaster for this city. This is our best example of [liberal] overreach, so we have been very strategic focusing on this issue."

The debate over camping could reach the Supreme Court, as Boise, Idaho, plans to appeal a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that determined that criminalizing public sleeping is unconstitutional.

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Homelessness in Austin, Texas, has officials and both ends of the political spectrum debating "sitting, lying, and camping" in public places, according to The Washington Post.
austin, homelessness, ordinance, texas, camping, occupy movement
Thursday, 22 August 2019 10:27 PM
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