AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin's growing homeless population is creating a new problem as homeless camps pop up in several areas of town.
Police say these camps are much more than just a neighborhood nuisance, they are creating a major safety hazard on the roads for anyone who drives by.
The corner of Riverside Drive and Interstate 35 is where Timothy Flores calls home.
"I'm not bothering nobody," Flores said, his wife and puppy by his side .
"We have chosen to stay out here because we don't want to be split up," Christina Grissom, Flores' wife, said. "This is our family."
It is a choice that leaves them with few options.
"A lot of places, they don't take animals," Grissom said. "They don't take married couples or families."
But a growing population of campers and panhandlers has people who live nearby concerned about trash, being asked for money, and the safety of people passing through.
The Austin Police Department agrees.
Officers issued Timothy and Christina several tickets this week alone. And while our cameras were rolling, they showed up again.
"I'll be out here, get as many tickets as it takes, and survive out here, just to have my family," Grissom said.
These tickets were issued as part of an APD initiative to crack down on homeless camping and panhandling in the area.
They say it is more than just a nuisance, it is a safety hazard.
In fact, while KXAN crews were on the busy corner, a motorcycle officer attempting to pull to the side of the road to issue tickets to panhandlers was struck by a moving truck.
Still, no matter the police presence, this family unit chooses to stick together.
"I will not split away from this man," Grissom said. "I will not. Nor that dog."
As of the first of the year, estimates place Austin's homeless population between 4,000-6,000 people. There are just 600 emergency beds available for shelter.
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