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Austin public camping ban to begin May 11, city manager to determine details of ordinance



AUSTIN, TX – Voters have spoken. Austin’s public camping ban will begin May 11th, making it illegal to camp in any public area not allowed by the city once again. 58% of people voted in support of reinstating the camping ban and 42% voted against it.

“This is a victory for the citizens of Austin because the police department, the mayor and council, they don’t do what they want to do. We listen to the public and the voters and the voters decide the path of the city,” said Ken Casaday, President of Austin Police Association.

“Homelessness is not just a problem in Austin, but a lot of people have taken it upon themselves that they can go live in certain areas that aren’t really habitable,” said Jordan Kruz, Austin resident.

Before the camping ban is reinstated, local leaders will hear from the city manager on how city officials will implement the ordinance. Details like banning those from sitting or lying down on public sidewalks in areas like downtown and West Campus will also be addressed.

“My take from the campaign and the election was that clearly lots of people in the city, in fact on both sides that voted, clearly stated I think that they don’t want to see tenting in the community. None of us do,” said Mayor Steve Adler.

Although the details of the ordinance are up to the city manager, Mayor Steve Adler weighs in on what he believes will be most effective for those experiencing homelessness.

“All the studies and best practices show us that services without housing really don’t work and housing without services also does not work. You need both and yes, it is going to take resources to take people out of tents and get them in better and safer places,” Adler said.

According to a city spokesperson, staff is evaluating options for how to best implement the ordinance and their focus will be on individuals living in situations that present higher health and safety risks.

City leaders agree, it’s going to take more than local government to implement this ordinance. The Austin Police Association and Mayor Steve Adler said it’ll take the entire community.

“In order for us to be able to get people out of tents and keep them out of tents, which is the priority, I think in our city it’s evidence by that vote we’ll have to put some resources against it and I hope that the whole city is ready to do this. This is something that’s just bigger than the city or the county. It’s going to take all of us,” Adler said.

“When our district representatives and our officers go out to assist the civilians that go around to clean up the camps, I suspect it’s going to be a model like that. It’s going to be a combination of not only our police officers, but our civilians making this happen and that’s the best way for it to be. We’ll need people from ECHO, people from all over the community to help out with this,” Casaday said.

Casaday said he agrees with the city’s long-term goal to house the homeless but said something needs to be done sooner, with the ordinance less than two weeks away from being implemented.

“There’s going to be a lot of work and we need to identify places for these individuals to temporarily go to where they can receive help and try to get housing,” Casaday said. “If we could have these individuals that need homes in centralized locations to where they can receive help, instead of scattered throughout the city, under different interstates, under different roads and all over Austin, it would be easier to provide them help and get them full-time housing because that is the way. We look forward to working with city council, city manager and chief of police to make this happen.”