UPDATE: Read further comments on this situation from TCRP staff via the Austin American-Statesman here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2019
Media contact: Matt Mackowiak
Homeless given more rights than property owners under new camping policy
Chairman Matt Mackowiak supports Gov. Greg Abbott in calling for Texas Legislature to reverse city decision
AUSTIN -- A recent change to city ordinance allowing homeless camps on private property, business frontage, and even public sidewalks has ignited a firestorm from both sides of the political spectrum.
It has now become legal in the City of Austin for homeless persons to camp on the front of one's private property or on public rights-of-way in the Capital of Texas. Even the Austin Police Association is expressing discomfort with the idea, which allows camping "on sidewalks, alleyways, and other public places (except parks and City Hall), which includes in front of your house, provided the people camping are not making the sidewalk unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous."
"This ill-advised homeless camping policy is the latest example of our all-Democrat City Council continuing its war on private enterprise and taxpayers," said Matt Mackowiak, Travis GOP Chairman. "There are better ways to incentivize businesses and homeowners to help alleviate homelessness in Austin, but chiseling away at our rights and public safety is not the answer.
"The Travis County Republican Party stands firmly behind Gov. Greg Abbott in his call for the Texas Legislature to, at their earliest opportunity, reverse this regrettable City Council decision."
Via the City Council's website message board, Mayor Steve Adler suggested the camping policy is a step toward an eventual goal of building more homeless shelters throughout the city and expanding mental and physical health services. Recently, a proposed homeless shelter on Ben White Boulevard has drawn significant backlash from the community.
This comes four months following the city of Austin entering a contract with TxDOT to provide trash collection and clean-up services at homeless camps under 60 state-owned overpasses once per month.
Also worth noting: if a private business or homeowner were to rent a space to a homeless person, that would, per Short Term Rental ordinances approved in recent years, cost the property owner a $500 annual fee plus the requisite insurance, city permit, and remittance of hotel and occupancy taxes.
"There has got to be a better way forward," Mackowiak added. "We urge Mayor Adler to sit down with members of the community to come up with a comprehensive solution that both respects private property rights and protects public safety."
The Travis County Republican Party's mission is to elect more Republicans in the Austin area and to support the conservative Principles of the party For more information see TravisGOP.com.