Mayor Adler says Austin’s approach to homelessness ‘not working the way it needs to’

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday if the City of Austin doesn’t reinstate the ban on homeless camping, the state will do it for them.

The governor posted about the ban on Twitter Wednesday, saying “contrary to what Austin leaders think no one has a right to urinate & defecate wherever they want.”

“Homelessness promoted by Austin has also endangered public safety,” Abbott continued.

The city passed an ordinance which largely decriminalized sitting, laying or camping in public places that went into effect July 2019. Supporters of the ordinance have previously said it would help those experiencing homelessness break the cycle.

But Austin Mayor Steve Adler said on Thursday the city’s approach is “not good enough and is not working the way that it needs to.”

“We need to do a better job of housing people and getting them permanent supportive housing,” Adler told KXAN. “We need to have a better detailed implementation plan so the community knows exactly how long its going to take us to end homelessness, and what are the benchmarks along the way to measure progress.”

Adler said reinstating the city’s public camping ban would be a mistake and “inhumane.”

This isn’t the first time the governor has said he would act if Austin did not.

In October 2019, Abbott wrote on Twitter “Austin’s policy of lawlessness has allowed vicious acts like this. Austin’s inability to restore order will compel the State to act beginning Nov. 1 if action is not taken to ensure public safety.”

KXAN previously reported that same month Abbott had sent two letters to Adler documenting his criticism of the city’s homeless controversy, even threatening to direct state agencies to deal with the issue.

One group has been working hard trying to get the issue on the ballot and in front of voters. Save Austin Now has collected tens of thousands of signatures trying to reinstate the homeless camping ban.

The group needs 20,000 signatures to get it on the May ballot, and as of Tuesday, they say they have 30,000. The signatures will need to be verified by the city clerk’s office.

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