Group sues Austin over homeless encampments

Save Austin Now and 4 companies are suing the town of Austin, claiming it’s not absolutely implementing Proposition B, a measure handed overwhelmingly by voters to finish public homeless encampments within the state capital.

The group has battled Metropolis Corridor for 2 years after the Democratic-led metropolis council reversed an current legislation that prohibited public encampments, leading to tent cities popping up on sidewalks all through Austin. A rising homeless inhabitants started dwelling in public parks and close to colleges and playgrounds, along with spots below overpasses and close to highways.

The group’s bipartisan citizen motion and petition marketing campaign finally resulted in an election held Might 1, with voters supporting eradicating homeless encampments.

Proposition B makes it a prison offense to take a seat or lie on sidewalks within the downtown space, to camp in public areas, or solicit or aggressively solicit cash or different issues of worth at particular hours and places in Austin.  The crime is a category C misdemeanor, carrying a effective of as much as $500.

After the poll proposition handed, homeless camps weren’t instantly eliminated. The town as a substitute stated it was implementing a plan in phases over a 90-day window. The final of 4 phases started Aug. 8 involving Austin Police Division (APD) officers issuing citations and arresting those that violate the tenting ordinance who don’t voluntarily go away.

The town states , “Since Might 11, Austin Police Division officers have visited greater than 605 individuals experiencing homelessness at encampments and different areas throughout Austin. Officers have issued 572 written warnings and 24 citations. No arrests have been made associated to the tenting ban thus far. Officers have linked greater than 124 individuals with social assist companies, which incorporates referrals for 34 veterans.”

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It provides that its strategy is “accountable and humane.”

However Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of Save Austin Now, stated in a information launch, “It’s plain that Prop B is just not being absolutely enforced” and homelessness continues to be very a lot a difficulty in Austin.

The group additionally beforehand took concern with how the town administered tens of tens of millions of {dollars} in funds to deal with homelessness.

“Taxpayers should understand how $160 million was spent over fiscal years 2018-2020 and what we’ve got to indicate for it,” Mackowiak stated in June. “As a result of it seems the cash has been extensively spent on waste, with valuable little new homeless housing being made out there regardless of large funding.”

Greater than 2,000 persons are nonetheless ready for housing options from the town “after greater than two years and not less than $161 million spent,” he added. Austin NPR places that quantity at greater than 3,000, including that the town’s efforts to search out short-term housing hasn’t helped get most people off the streets.

The lawsuit was filed in Travis County District Court docket and asks the court docket to require the town to totally implement the general public tenting ban and take away all homeless tents and camps.

The 4 Austin enterprise homeowners becoming a member of the lawsuit say they’ve been brought about monetary hurt on account of the town not absolutely implementing the ordinance. They embody Laura North of Headspace Salon and Co-op; Stuart Dupuy of Steadiness Dance Studios; Robert Mayfield, proprietor of three Dairy Queen franchises; and Bob Woody, proprietor of Buckshot Bar.

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In response to the criticism, the companies have incurred “substantial bills to guard their property, their clients and their shoppers.”

Metropolis spokesman Andy Tate stated in a press release that metropolis officers “obtained this lawsuit and completely reject its premise.”

The town additionally notes that its phased strategy focuses solely on homeless camps that existed previous to the brand new ordinance going into impact Might 11, 2021. Homeless people who arrange new camps after this date are topic to quick notification of violation, and enforcement motion, if mandatory, the town says.

It provides that a number of entities are concerned in addressing the homeless concern, together with Austin Useful resource Restoration, Parks and Recreation, Public Works and Watershed Safety. The companies conduct often scheduled clear ups at underpasses, parks, and creeks.

Their groups are “discovering many deserted encampments, permitting them to make remaining clear ups to public areas,” the town provides. “These ongoing efforts are unbiased of actions associated to implementation of the tenting ordinance.”

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