Austin businesses fear homeless community is moving north


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The latest Proposition B citation list shows the Austin Police Department issued 37 citations since mid-June. Most of them are coming from camps off Congress, Riverside and South Lamar.

North Austin businesses located just short of Cedar Park, near the U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 45 overpasses, said they’re starting to see homeless camps build.

“You can tell where the city line is between here and Cedar Park,” said Tom Mckay. “As soon as you cross the city line, the lawn is mowed, there’s no more trash and none of the problems that we see here in Austin.”

Mckay owns some real estate in this area of town. He said the situation has been challenging for him, because he’s struggled to lease his property before and has come to find graffiti on his storefront.

“The increase, definitely, I would say is near Anderson Mill toward I-45. It has significantly picked up,” said Mckay.

  • Homeless camps in northwest Austin (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Homeless camps in northwest Austin (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Homeless camps in northwest Austin (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)

This area of town still falls within Austin city limits. As part of Prop B, the city of Austin is in Phase 4 of enforcement of the camping ban, which means Austin police officers can begin making arrests for violations.

KXAN reached out to the Austin Police Department Friday to see if it has seen an influx in people experiencing homelessness move up north and if citations have been issued there.

APD said the area is scheduled for a cleanup in the near future, and there was some confusion as to whose jurisdiction it fell under.

“I haven’t seen any decrease in the population under the bridges,” said Mckay. “I have people using the back of my buildings as bathrooms. We have found drugs, we have found toilet paper, all kinds of nasty things that we shouldn’t have to deal with.”

The homeless camps near US-183 and SH-45 is also the same area of town where the newly-purchased Candlewood Suites is. The hotel is off Pecan Park Boulevard in Williamson County and is expected to house people transitioning out of homelessness.

The purchase of the hotel has been met by pushback from Williamson County leaders. County officials said the city didn’t communicate with them ahead of the purchase of the site.

Williamson County commissioners voted Tuesday to file a lawsuit against the city of Austin for purchasing the Candlewood Suites.

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