City Council addresses policies deemed discriminatory towards homeless

Southeast Austin neighbors concerned with homeless camp under bridge

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tuesday, the Austin City Council will address laws and ordinances deemed discriminatory towards the homeless population, publicly for the first time at City Hall.

This comes before a possible Thursday vote, which is set to allocate $8 million in funds to directly address lack of housing and support services for the homeless.

Council members intend to repeal or amend the policies commonly known as solicitation, “no sit/no lie,” and camping on the same day. 

YESTERDAY: Austin City Council could discuss and repeal panhandling ordinance

The proposal would repeal Austin’s anti-panhandling ordinance which bans aggressive solicitation, panhandling near bus stops, near schools and near ATMs or banks, and overnight ban of panhandling in downtown. 

In a 2017 city audit, it was found that Austin issued about 18,000 citations in two years to people who violated the panhandling, no sit/lie and camping rules. Most of them didn’t show up for their court dates, which then led to warrants being issued. 

Instead of criminalizing homelessness, advocates say the city should look for different ways to help solve the homelessness problem. Some suggested methods include creating more shelters and addressing housing and health care needs. 

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