Austin to allow Homeless to Camp on City Sidewalks

Changes to the best way the City of Austin and its police division will deal with homeless folks go into impact Monday after town handed an ordinance largely decriminalizing the act of sitting, laying or tenting in public locations.

Proponents of the rule change have argued that it will assist homeless folks break the cycle of homelessness. A metropolis audit report in November of 2017 discovered that Austin’s insurance policies limiting tenting, sitting, or mendacity in public areas might make it tougher for folks to depart homelessness due to a legal report or arrest warrants. The report additionally instructed that Austin’s present ordinances pose authorized dangers due to lawsuits confronted by different cities with comparable insurance policies.

David Johnson with Grassroots Leadership mentioned if a homeless particular person is cited for sleeping in a public place, “you have warrants, you’re arrested, then you definately lose your belongings since you don’t have a spot to retailer them. Then it creates a cycle the place you come back to the streets.”

In June, Austin’s Ending Community Homelessness Coalition explained that these citations associated to the tenting/ sit-lie ordinance have been actively prevention homeless people they labored with from stepping into housing.

Public enter over this ordinance has been tense and heated, on the June 20 council assembly, so many individuals signed up to converse — each for and in opposition to the modifications– that the council didn’t get to vote on the modifications till 2 a.m.

The electronic mail laid out new tips for cops responding to calls associated to homeless folks within the metropolis.

Under the modifications, APD can solely arrest or ticket somebody who’s soliciting, tenting, sitting, or mendacity in a public space if they current a public well being or security hazard or are blocking a walkway. The modifications additionally make all aggressive confrontations offenses underneath metropolis code, whether or not they’re panhandling or not.

Camping on non-public property or in metropolis parks continues to be not allowed, however tenting in public areas can be allowed.

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