Austin officials visit 42 homeless encampments, warn people about ban

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin says it is making progress on its phased approach to implementing the voter-mandated camping ban. Since the ban went into effect on May 11, representatives from multiple city departments, including the Austin Police Department, have visited 42 homeless sites.

They’re there to educate those experiencing homelessness about the impact of the camping ban, which will eventually force them to move.

It’s the first phase of the city’s four-phase plan. This phase runs through June 12 and is centered around education. The city said Parks and Recreation Department officials will also visit 50 encampments by June 12.

“This is a huge endeavor and we are taking it step by step. Enforcement of Prop B continues to be a strategy focusing on compassion and empathy,” interim police Chief Joseph Chacon said in a statement.

The city says it does not just want to tell people they have to move without telling them where they can safely and legally move to, but so far, the city has not finalized where these alternative options will be located.

City staff reviewed 70 city-owned properties where it could possibly allow camping and then released a list of 45 proposed locations:

There was immediate criticism about how many of these locations were at city parks. The Texas Legislature then amended its statewide camping ban bill to prevent local governments from using parks as temporary shelters. Friday, lawmakers passed the bill with that amendment and sent it to Gov. Abbott to sign. Once law, this statewide ban will go into effect Sept. 1.

The City of Austin has said it wants to get those city-approved encampments finalized by June 1.

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