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Thanks to New Ordinance, Austin’s Homelessness Crisis Gets Even Worse

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The Texan reports that the city of Austin’s new camping ordinance is starting to create problems.

The ordinance permits camping in most public areas and has generated controversy in Austin.

In fact, 1,000 people showed up to a forum last week, which Mayor Steve Adler hosted.

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Over 28,000 people have signed a petition calling for the ordinance to be repealed.

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One of the main concerns about this ordinance has been its impact on commercial areas such as the growing epicenter in Congress Avenue.

Brad Johnson of The Texan expands on this:

A simple stroll down the road running perpendicular to the state capitol and it won’t take long to spot a makeshift camp, lounging body, or a pile of belongings. With homeless individuals peppering the sidewalks, street corners, and other public areas, businesses are struggling to deal with the consequences of the city’s new progressive camping ordinance.

According to Craig Stately, co-owner of Royal Blue Grocery (RBG), the ordinance change “took a problem and made it a crisis overnight.”

Historically, RBG’s Congress Avenue store has had the most foot traffic. However, this new rule change has dramatically transformed activity in this area.

Staley claims that this problem didn’t appear out of nowhere.  He added that “Six years ago [the Congress location] was our busiest store, and last month it was our slowest store.”

The co-owner of RBG asserts that “What they undid in three weeks is now going to take three months to fix, and I don’t know if we’ll still be open by then after dark on Congress Avenue.”

But this policy change goes beyond economic activity. Now, public safety is at risk. At night, Staley and his employees don’t feel safe around the store’s location.Staley said, “The behaviors [of homeless people] have become very aggressive.”Since July 1, police have been called frequently.

According to Staley, one of the 7/11 clerks next door informed him that the 7/11 store “has called police as many as 20 times in a day.”

Two weeks ago, the RBG location on Congress had a criminal trespass notice issued every day during that week. Staley claimed that during numerous encounters with law enforcement, they voiced their frustration with the new homeless policies. He stated, “They can’t do their job right now and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

Staley then concluded, “If we didn’t have APD doing what they do, that store on Congress would have closed a long time ago.”

This latest policy conundrum demonstrates how out of touch the city of Austin is when it comes to sound policymaking. If this ordinance stays in place, Austin’s already growing homelessness problem will magnify into a citywide crisis.

 

 

 

 

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