Tents pop up around Austin City Hall ahead of camping ban taking effect

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just a few days before the City of Austin’s public camping ban is set to go into effect, you’ll see camps all around city hall.

Dozens of people have pitched up tents there to protest the ordinance taking effect Tuesday.

“We’re out here in solidarity– literal solidarity of our unhoused friends,” says Sam, a member of The Little Petal Alliance, one of a handful of non-profits partnering to organize the camp-in.

They say to break the cycle of homelessness, the city needs to provide housing and better services — like healthcare and mental health help, and until then, people should be allowed to stay in their homes.

“It will be a death sentence for a lot of people if we don’t fight it and make sure the police don’t enforce it,” Sam says.

“At first, it really irritated me and I was like, ‘Hell no, we won’t go,'” says James Ford, who has been experiencing homelessness for about four years.

Now, he says he’s joining the protest because he just wants city leaders to move quickly with resources.

“I would love it if there was more funding to house the homeless,” he says.

He also wants more support– he says it’s hard to balance daily needs, like getting enough food, with finding support services that will help with long-term stability.

“I got schizophrenia, bipolar, paranoia, PTSD and ADHD,” he says.

That’s what he ultimately wants to see come out of Proposition B.

“I want the homeless community to be able to achieve greater things, not be stuck in the same predicament every single day,” Ford says.

For him, that means becoming a mechanic.

On Friday, the city told KXAN that staff is working on a plan to implement the ordinance in phases but hasn’t provided a timeline on when that might be complete.

The city says more details about its plan will be coming out in the next few days.

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