AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Mayor of Austin and the Governor of Texas are at it again – arguing over homelessness in Austin.
Mayor Steve Adler and Gov. Greg Abbott have a history of debating over the issue on Twitter, and this time it is about a video from February 2018.
Friday evening, Abbott shared a video on Twitter that showed a man throwing parts of street signs at a car in downtown Austin.
“Austin’s policy of lawlessness has allowed vicious acts like this,” Abbott said in his tweet. “Austin’s inability to restore order will compel the State to act beginning Nov. 1 if action is not taken to ensure public safety.”
Adler responded to Abbott’s tweet Saturday morning informing him the video posted is from February 2018, before the recent ordinance changes.
“This isn’t the first time you’ve fallen victim to social media trolls trying to mislead and scare Austinites,” Adler said on Twitter. “Let’s focus on actually ending homelessness.”
Abbott quickly responded back to Adler’s tweet – thanking him for making his point because the video was before the homeless policy was changed, and he said it has made public safety worse.
“You fool no one,” Abbott said. “Everyone knows the dangers downtown. Attacks have INCREASED since that video. Stop ignoring the dangers & keep people safe.”
Saturday, Krista Chacona, the attorney for the man featured in the video sat down with KXAN.
“It was obvious from the video that this individual was experiencing some type of crisis and I found it offensive that Gov. Abbott would re-air his trauma for political gain for this ongoing Twitter war that he is having with Mayor Steve Adler and the council,” Chacona said. “Obviously he was experiencing something but it was not homelessness. That client did have a home to return to.”
KXAN reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office on Saturday for comment, but has not heard back.
Longtime attorney Chacona has been working with people experiencing mental health issues for 20 years. She said her client featured in the video suffers from a mental health illness and an intellectual and developmental disability.
“I see this problem every day,” Chacona said. “When you do have a mental health issue it’s impossible to stay stable on the street. That’s the tragedy of it.”
Chacona said what the City of Austin needs is additional funding for resources.
“There is a dramatic shortage of housing, and a large portion of people experiencing homelessness do have mental health issues and that’s something (Abbott) could do something about,” Chacona said. “(We need) more money for outpatient services, more money for inpatient services – expanding the state hospitals and more beds – there’s a lot of things that (the state) can do.”
She believes city and county leaders are doing what they can with the resources available.
“The thing I love about Travis County is that they are working so hard and we have, with the limited resources, we have really good services – there just aren’t enough of them,” she said. “I would love to see (the state) dedicate a fraction of the budget and more resources to help these individuals to fight the underlying problem rather than squabble about how the laws are written why don’t we just fix the problem?”
Chacona said her client now has to relive that day “over and over again because it’s forever on social media.”
“It’s retraumatizing (my client), and it’s retraumatizing his family for a few points for Gov. Abbott,” Chacona said.
Earlier this month, Abbott took to Twitter to announce he sent a letter to the Mayor saying Austin has until Nov. 1 before he directs state agencies to step in.
Adler responded to Abbott’s letter saying Austin accepts the offer of State resources to help with the homelessness challenge.
“When Austin moves vulnerable Texans to where we can’t see them, I pray we’re moving them out of harm and into housing,” Adler said in his tweet.