Homelessness

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott doubled down on his threat to intervene over Austin's homelessness ordinances. 

Lori Pampilo Harris, the city's chief officer in charge of reducing homelessness
Julia Reihs / KUT

A month after her first official day on the job, Austin's homeless strategy officer, Lori Pampilo Harris, is quitting.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Homelessness in Austin isn't new.

But the Austin City Council's June vote to roll back ordinances criminalizing the behavior of homeless people has brought new focus on the issue. How to deal with homelessness has been as divisive as it is crucial to the future of Austin. So, we've collected a handful of opinions espoused over the last few months.

Assistant Austin Police Chief Justin Newsom speaks with Tanya Bullman and James McPherson
Julia Reihs / KUT

Threats of state intervention, confusion on the part of officers and indecision on the dais at City Hall have all led the Austin Police Department to rethink how it enforces laws regulating where people can sit, lie down and camp in public. 

A man sits in a homeless encampment outside the Salvation Army downtown.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said police are going to retool how they enforce laws that prohibit obstruction of sidewalks and public spaces and that he has asked the city to revert back to old rules on homelessness while it considers revising ordinances passed in June.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott says he's prepared to "unleash the full authority of every state agency" if Austin doesn't address issues surrounding homelessness by Nov. 1. 

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Starting today, Austin’s homeless shelter is officially a housing-focused shelter, shifting its resources to longer-term efforts and less on day-to-day emergency shelter operations.

A homeless encampment near the Salvation Army downtown.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Mayor Steve Adler says the Austin City Council doesn't necessarily need to revise rules passed in June that effectively legalized camping, siting and lying down in public.

Pu Ying Huang for KUT

The Austin City Council on Friday declined to revise rules passed in June that rolled back ordinances that banned camping, sitting or lying down in public. Council members may take up the measures again next month.

Austin City Council members heard testimony on revisions to its homelessness rules ahead of an expected vote Friday that could reinstate restrictions on camping and resting in public.

A tent and other belongings under an overpass.
Julia Reihs / KUT

City leaders have a new proposal to regulate behavior related to homelessness ahead of a possible City Council vote that could happen as soon as Wednesday.

Danny Boura lives under an overpass at Ben White Boulevard.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin City Council members have presented plans to roll back city laws passed in June that effectively allowed camping, sitting or lying down in public. Council members will consider the changes, which limit that behavior at specific locations, at their Sept. 19 meeting.

A homeless encampment under a bridge
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin's third forum on homelessness this summer began with a benediction, of sorts, from moderator Jack Musselman: that all people are created in God's image, and that the forum, hosted by St. Edward's University, would be civil and comport to the university's Catholic mission.

The guy from InfoWars apparently wasn't there for that benediction.

Julia Reihs / KUT

City officials released additional guidelines Friday on how to limit homeless encampments in Austin – including spatial limitations on sidewalks and along waterways. The memo from the city manager and the Homeless Strategy Office is meant to guide the Austin City Council as it rolls out a plan to limit resting and camping in public.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The University of Texas Police Department is calling on city leaders to ban camping on public space near the Forty Acres.

Mayor Steve Adler and council members Greg Casar, Kathie Tovo and Ann Kitchen
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin's mayor and members of the City Council tried to allay fears about the city's revised rules on homelessness and its push to expand shelter space, at a forum hosted by the Downtown Austin Alliance.

Camping under a freeway overpass
Julia Reihs / KUT

The Austin City Council provided some clarity Tuesday over where it will limit camping and resting in public, as well as its overall strategy to boost citywide, housing-focused initiatives and investments.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin will re-examine its new rules governing homelessness, according to a memo released Friday.

The memo sent to the City Council on behalf of Austin's Homelessness Strategy Office says the city could abandon its idea to make space for emergency encampments in every City Council district.

Daniel Johnson, who is homeless, sits on a bench on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Just a couple of months ago, Steve Harrell got a ticket just for sitting in downtown Austin. It was around 4:30 p.m. and he was among a group of other people experiencing homelessness when a police officer approached, pointed at him and issued the citation, he told officials at an Austin City Council meeting last month.

Danny Bonura lives under an overpass
Julia Reihs / KUT

The City of Austin says it's prepared to boost spending on housing and homelessness assistance programs ahead of a state-mandated property tax revenue cap that goes into effect next year.

Brian Fleming lives under an overpass in Austin.
Julia Reihs / KUT

KUT hosted an hourlong discussion during Morning Edition on the issue of homelessness in the city, featuring guests across the spectrum, along with the people with the most at stake — Austinites living on the street.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, left, and the Downtown Austin Alliance's Bill Brice listen to interim Homelessness Strategy Officer Veronica Briseño at the forum on Tuesday.
Richie Loria for KUT

As the city adjusts to new rules for panhandling, camping or sitting or lying down in public, the Downtown Austin Alliance hosted a forum Tuesday to discuss the road ahead for dealing with homelessness and plans to expand emergency shelter access across the city.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council's approval of a new city-owned shelter and its revisions to city law that expand where people can rest, camp and ask for money have sparked a polarizing discussion about public safety, public health and the future of Austin itself.

paul.wasneski/Flickr (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Last week, Texas Standard reported on how three Texas cities – Dallas, Austin and Lubbock – are tackling homelessness. Now, The Texas Tribune reports a twist to the narrative that homelessness is generally on the rise. In fact, the Tribune reports that homelessness is actually going down in Houston.

Pu Ying Huang for KUT News

Revisions to Austin's rules against panhandling, camping and sitting or lying down in public are in effect.

Austinites have expressed concern about how the rules will impact those experiencing homelessness and how officers will enforce the laws. KUT asked the Austin Police Department to help clarify things.

How Three Texas Cities Are Managing The Rise In Homeless Residents

Jun 26, 2019
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

As the gap between the wealthy and poor has grown in places where the cost of living is high, cities across the country have been struggling with growing populations of people experiencing homelessness – people soliciting passersby, sleeping and living on public streets and in parks. In Austin, where the wealth gap has been skyrocketing, so have the numbers of people living on the streets.

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Mayor Steve Adler is pushing back against criticism of steps the City Council took last week to, as he says, address homelessness more effectively in Austin.

Emree Weaver for KUT

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he expects state lawmakers to overturn Austin's revision to its homelessness ordinances.

In a tweet last night, Abbott said "there are far better solutions for the homeless & citizens," referring to the Austin City Council's approval of new rules that loosen regulations banning camping in public.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said revisions to city laws banning camping, panhandling and sitting or lying down will "fundamentally change" how police interact with people experiencing homelessness.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council voted to scale back city rules on camping, panhandling and sitting or lying down in public. Council members heard hours of impassioned testimony on the ordinances at the tail end of a marathon meeting that stretched into early Friday morning. 

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