Austin Mayor responds to criticism of how the city’s handling homelessness

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People who are homeless in Austin_284540

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler is responding to a letter from Congressman Chip Roy, who wrote a letter to the mayor criticizing how the city is handling homelessness.

The Austin Resource Center for the homeless, or the ARCH, is in Congressman Roy’s district. Not long ago, he expressed to KXAN that homelessness is the number one thing he’s hearing about from his constituents.

In the letter to Mayor Adler, Congressman Roy wrote that Austin shouldn’t be incentivizing people sleeping by the streets by allowing them to camp anywhere. He went on to say that it’s putting the city at risk for more violence and public health threats.

Roy also mentioned that he’s heard complaints from a number of businesses, with some owners saying they’ve have had to up their security, and some saying they’ve found needles in their parking lots.

In the letter, the congressman urged the mayor to focus on providing more beds and housing for the homeless.

Mayor Adler says that’s what the city is working on behind the scenes.

“Our goal is to not have anybody camping anywhere in our city, and that is our goal– to find housing for people,” Adler said. “We didn’t change any of our ordinances that dealt with public safety issues or public health issues. We expect our law enforcement to continue to enforce the laws we have in this state, but if someone’s not creating a public safety risk or a public health hazard, we shouldn’t be trying to put them in jail. What we should be doing is trying to put them in a home. That’s how we solve this challenge. That’s how we end homelessness.”

Adler went on to say he believes Congress plays a big role in the discussion. He says he urges congressmen like Roy to help pas HR 1856. The bill would provide cities across the country with funding to open more shelter,s provide rental subsidies and put people in homes.

KXAN reached out to Congressman Roy’s office to see if he’s in support of the bill and is awaiting a response.

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