New Austin City Council initiative to reinstate the camping ban for voting
The resolution, led by Ann Kitchen, would bring the ban on homeless camping back to areas that are considered unsafe.
Austin, Texas – – Do you remember the citywide camping ban that was lifted in 2019? Well, that ban could return in certain areas following an upcoming vote Thursday on the HEAL initiative, which stands for Homeless Encampment Assistance Link.
“We’re trying to connect people who are currently in really unsafe places. We’re trying to connect them to housing and services so they are on their way to permanent housing and overtime eliminates the need for outdoor camping,” Ann said Kitchen, Austin City Council District 5th
Kitchen, one of the sponsors, said this was the first phase and they plan to focus on four locations in particular. She said the exact campsites had not been identified. However, the proposed resolution describes the priority locations as follows:
- South Central at a major intersection or under an overpass
- Northwest Austin at an intersection next to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
- Along a main artery through the central business district and
- East Austin on a sidewalk or public office next to or leading to a public library
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“It’s not safe for people to live outside, and we know there are some particularly unsafe and unhealthy places that people live and camp,” said Kitchen.
In 2019, the city council repealed the city’s camping ordinance.
This will only reintroduce this regulation in four different areas. “Our social services and health care providers will talk to people who live in specific locations, work with them to connect them to housing, and meet their needs as they express those needs. When that process is complete, the city will tell us how we do It is clear that these areas are not approved for camping, “Kitchen said.
The plan is supported by many, including newcomer to the council, Mackenzie Kelly, who walked on a platform or reinstated the camping ban. “I’m really looking forward to seeing this passport and presenting a plan of action to the city for which we can be held accountable,” said Kelly.
But the proposal is not welcomed by groups such as D5 for Black Lives. They said on their website that the move will only recriminalize the homeless.
However, Kitchen said that this resolution does not seek to do so. “They say we’re connecting them to apartments and identifying those areas that aren’t allowed camping. Let’s say a few things about how we can do that in a way that doesn’t involve policing or quoting,” Kitchen said.
The council is expected to vote on the measure on Thursday. Kitchen notes that if passed, this doesn’t begin until the first phase of resolution. More campsites could be added later.
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