Certain areas of Austin could be off limits to homeless camping, according to proposals

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three busy areas — west campus near UT Austin, several streets downtown and 11th and 12th streets in east Austin — could be off-limits to homeless camping.

This proposal comes from Austin City Council members Kathie Tovo and Ann Kitchen.

There’s also a slightly different proposal out there from Council Member Greg Casar and Mayor Steve Adler.

You can read Tovo and Kitchen’s draft resolution and ordinance here: 

You can read Casar and Adler’s draft resolution and ordinance here:

Kitchen told KXAN Tuesday, “We’re doing what we said we would do back in June. Just to identify places that are not safe for people to camp and to talk about how people can camp.”

Since the council lifted restrictions on camping, sitting and lying in most public areas in an effort to decriminalize homelessness, city leaders have been hosting forums to hear from the public. Many people had expressed concerns about safety, as well as trash and human waste. 

Tovo said that through the proposed ordinance, “We have addressed some of those concerns. I’m not sure that the community will feel that we’ve addressed all of those concerns, but we put this forward believing it was a good balance.”

Kitchen added: “The bottom line is nobody wants people to have to live outside. The bottom line is housing, but the reality is right now, we’re working fast and furiously to have housing for people as soon as possible, but that’s not tomorrow, so we need to address safety and healthier places as soon as we can.”

Their draft ordinance seeks to ban camping around homeless shelters as well. They also outline where people can and cannot sit or lie. 

“They’re obviously listening to the outcries of the entire city,” said Cleo Petricek who lives in south Austin. “But putting selective enforcement in certain areas, where will the homeless go?”

She said if the city is going to place restrictions in certain areas, they should, at the same time, put into place resources like portable restrooms, showers or temporary shelters.

“They’re just moving them around now,” she said. “That’s exactly what they said they did not want to do.”

Joell McNew, President of SafeHorns, said: “There’s no resolution to this at this point. There’s no resources connecting. There’s no shelters. There’s no true plan in place.”

The proposals include exploring options for restrooms or showers, but does not specify when those services would be enacted. 

The city council is scheduled to discuss all this at its September 19th meeting. 

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