A Look At Homelessness In Austin One Year After Public Camping Permitted

The Texas Observer’s Gus Bova says allowing public camping revealed a homeless population that was already there, partially hidden before the relaxed rules.

By Laura Rice & Caroline CovingtonSeptember 23, 2020 7:23 am, , , ,

Just over a year ago, the city of Austin effectively decriminalized homelessness by rescinding a 1996 law that made camping in public spaces illegal. Some community groups and even the Texas governor pushed back strongly against the decision.

While much of the news this year has focused on the pandemic, homelessness in Austin, and in Texas, is still a problem. The Texas Observer’s Gus Bova told Texas Standard that Austin’s count in January actually showed an 11% rise in its homeless population, though he said that’s likely because the new rules made it easier for volunteers to find homeless residents.

But greater visibility of the homeless population also means greater awareness of the city’s affordable housing shortage.

“Austin has this real housing crunch and shortage for folks at the bottom. There’s 14 affordable units available for every 100 extremely poor individuals,” Bova said.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How allowing public camping has helped some homeless residents

– Who has pushed back against public camping, and why

– How Austin is unique in Texas when it comes to its public camping laws

– Why anti-camping ordinances haven’t ended homelessness

Read Gus Bova’s full story at The Texas Observer.

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