City leaders working to address homelessness in Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- Neighbors say what used to be one to two tents, is now a homeless camp that is growing in numbers in north Austin.

City leaders are pushing to make changes to help crackdown on the rising number of homeless people in Austin. Officials living in District 4, which is represented by Council Member Greg Casar, want to help cut down on the problem. Advocates say District 4 has the second highest rate of homelessness in the city outside of downtown. The district extends from Koenig Lane north to Braker Lane, including Walnut Creek Park.

Austinites say it's more than just rounding up the homeless population and relocating them. At a forum on Wednesday night, organizers pushed a message to help give homeless people jobs and make kits to help them improve their future.

"Helping them have opportunities for work and opportunities for housing so they can thrive as human beings and not just live a life based on survival," says Sarah Petit-McClure with the D4 homeless initiative.

APD tells KXAN addressing homeless challenges puts an additional strain on limited police resources. It recognizes many need specialized services, which is why the city created a Homeless Outreach Street Team. APD described HOST as, "a proactive approach to addressing peoples' needs before they reach a state of crisis. The goal is to provide assistance to eliminate behavior that often results in arrest, citation, or admission to a medical or psychiatric facility."

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