Texas Senate approves statewide camping ban bill, prevents city parks from being temporary shelter sites

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A plan to enact a statewide public camping ban in response to those experiencing homelessness was given final approval by the Texas Senate on Thursday.

The Senate made some changes to House Bill 1925, which passed in the lower chamber earlier this month. One amendment – in direct response to the City of Austin – would block local governments from using parks as temporary shelters.

On Tuesday, the City of Austin identified 45 potential locations for designated homeless campsites on city-owned property, which include some parks. The options were presented in response to the reinstated camping ban brought forward by the passing of Proposition B.

“Having people live under bridges is not humane. Having people experience all of their bodily functions out in public is not humane. It’s not right for the people living with it, and it’s not right for the homeless,” Sen. Jose Menendez, a San Antonio Democrat, said.

Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek, co-founders of Save Austin Now, released a statement Thursday afternoon applauding the Senate’s approval of the legislation and criticizing Austin city leaders.

“This overwhelming vote in the Texas Senate, which includes more than ten Senate Democratic votes to ban camping statewide, sends a strong message to Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Greg Casar and the rest of city hall that their efforts to allow unregulated public camping anywhere and regulated public camping in city parks is extreme and will not be allowed in the State of Texas,” the statement read.

Another amendment removed references to arrests in an attempt to reduce concerns that the bill will lead to further criminalization of homelessness.

The legislation will head back to the House to consider the changes.

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