Austin camping ban violations can result in arrests starting Sunday

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting Sunday, Austin police can arrest anyone who doesn’t leave after being cited for violating the homeless camping ban.

The ban, also known as Proposition B which was approved by voters on May 1, makes it a criminal offense for anyone to sit or lie down on sidewalks in the downtown Austin area, and to camp and ask for money in certain prohibited areas.

The start of the fourth phase comes months after Austin police officers have visited more than 605 people experiencing homelessness across the city to educate on the new policy. According to a Friday release, officers have written 572 warnings and 24 citations.

At last check, no arrests, which will be processed through the downtown Austin Community Court, have been made.

The majority of the Austin Public Safety Commission voted to recommend APD officers stop ticketing and arresting people for camping violations unless there are housing options, however it is unknown if the recommendation will change anything without a vote from City Council.

Friday, the City said capacity at shelters remains limited with COVID-19 hindering the possibility of more beds opening up.

Officers have been able to connect 124 people with resources, including 34 referrals for veterans.

City departments will continue regularly scheduled cleanups as needed at underpasses and parks and creeks. These efforts are unrelated to the enforcement of the ban.

City leaders are expected to host a virtual news conference about the final phase of Proposition B on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

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