Austin’s homeless camping ban could be back on May 2021 ballot

Austin homeless camping ban could be back in May 2021

The first attempt to reinstate the ban was invalidated back in August and they decided to try again from December 1st.

Where E. Cesar Chavez meets S. 1st Street in downtown Austin, tents line the sidewalk and form one of several homeless camps in the Austin area.

Right behind this intersection, a group of people gathered in the town hall on Tuesday to fight for the homeless. “There is an effort to criminalize people for being homeless in our community,” Chris Harris told Homes Not Handcuffs. “If it bothers you that there are people in this community who are homeless, there is an answer and that is housing.”

Harris and other members of the group gathered for a speech to reverse the efforts of Save Austin Now to ban camping for the homeless. Members of Homes Not Handcuffs said the funding should be used for housing and other resources when it comes to helping the homeless, not police and prisons.

“We see a problem in our society or a social illness and our instinct is to say, ‘Let the police handle it,'” said Harris. “People who become homeless through no fault of their own because the economy is weakening as a result of the pandemic shouldn’t just be booked or put in jail for it – that’s wrong.”

Just hours later, members of Save Austin Now filed over 24,000 signed petitions at City Hall in hopes of reinstating Austin’s homeless camping ban through the May 2021 election. The first attempt to reinstate the ban was invalidated back in August and they decided to try again from December 1st.

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Save Austin Now’s petition to reinstate the city’s camping ban has been invalidated

The petition was declared invalid after the signatures were removed during the validation process.

“It was not an easy decision for us to say, ‘Let’s start from scratch and do it all over again,’ but we couldn’t sit back and watch it go on,” said Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of Save Austin Now . “We are absolutely thrilled to announce today that we have collected more than 30,000 signed petitions – an exceptional achievement for 50 days, especially if you have COVID-19 [and all the holidays] Come on. ”

Of the 30,000 signed petitions they had received, Mackowiak estimated that they had turned about 26 to 27,000 to the town clerk because some petitions were rejected because of inadmissibility or other issues.

Save Austin Now members believe that the fact that the homeless are allowed to camp almost anywhere has serious consequences – both for the community and for the homeless themselves.

They also believe that alternatives already exist.

“There are still open shelters and the campsite is half full,” said Cleo Petricek. “There are places they can go, but they live on the streets where it is not safe for them and not safe for the community – it is not helpful to anyone.”

RELATED: Abbott is working to repeal Austin’s homeless camping ordinance

Governor Abbott is working to repeal Austin’s homeless camping ordinance

Governor Greg Abbott is currently working on legislation for a proposal for a nationwide camping ban in direct response to Austin’s homelessness.

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Now the matter is in the hands of the city and the process of validating the signature can take several weeks. The city has a February 12 deadline to approve an election language for the May ballot.

“There are better places for them, and we also want the city to be responsible for the $ 160 million allocated to them over the past three fiscal years,” said Mackowiak. “Why are there practically no new shelters for the homeless?”

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