IN DEPTH: Homeless policy from most restrictive to least restrictive


Homeless camp under I-35. (KXAN Photo: Todd Bailey)

UPDATE — The Austin City Council passed new restrictions Thursday night on homeless camping. These restrictions align with Council Member Delia Garza’s proposal below except they also include no sitting or lying outside homeless shelters, which was part of Mayor Adler’s proposal.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council is considering a number of proposals Thursday to roll back decisions it made in June to decriminalize homeless ordinances. The changes have allowed camping citywide, including on sidewalks and led to public rebukes from Gov. Greg Abbott.

Here is a look at what is being considered, and how it ranks from the least restrictive ordinance to the most restrictive. The three proposals Council Members are considering today fall between those.

Current City Policy since July 1

  • Sitting, lying, camping allowed in public as long as there’s no danger
  • Camping allowed on sidewalks but can’t block walkway
  • Not allowed to camp on private property, in parks, libraries, at City Hall
  • Camping banned in flood-prone areas
  • Tents allowed

Council Member Delia Garza’s Proposal

Everything above, plus:

  • Camping banned on sidewalks. Sitting/lying allowed.
  • Not allowed to camp within 15 feet of doorway during business hours
  • Camping banned outside homeless shelters. Sitting/lying allowed.
  • Camping banned within quarter-mile of homeless shelter
  • More narrowly defines camping as “erecting a structure.”

Mayor Steve Adler’s Proposal

Everything above, plus:

  • Not allowed to camp within 15 feet of doorway at any time
  • Camping, sitting, lying banned outside homeless shelters
  • Camping, sitting, lying banned within quarter-mile of homeless shelter
  • Camping banned at parades, festivals and demonstrations
  • Camping banned at bus stops
  • Does not narrowly define camping as erecting a structure

Council Member Ann Kitchen’s Proposal

Everything above, plus:

  • Camping banned on traffic islands, medians, sloped underpasses
  • Camping banned along creeks or river beds

Austin City Policy Prior to July 1

  • Ban on sitting, lying, or camping in public spaces
  • APD still allowed some sitting/lying in specific areas it could monitor
  • Like under the I-35 bridge at 7th Street
  • No tents allowed. APD made people tear tents down

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