On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Transportation initiated the removal and cleanup of homeless camps around Austin. With nowhere for homeless people to go, the City of Austin called on the governor for solutions.
“Yesterday after back and forth between the City of Austin and the State of Texas, the governor’s office announced that he would provide temporary living space for Austin’s homeless,” Platoff says.
The governor promised to provide a five-acre plot of land near Highway 183 and Monopolist Drive, where people experiencing homelessness will be allowed to camp. Platoff says some homeless people voiced concerns about the new location, which is further from bus routes than previous camping areas.
“What we do know is that this is sort of a stop-gap measure,” Platoff says.
Despite this new homeless camp area, Platoff says there are no other long-term solutions for homelessness in Texas. Some Austin business owners announced they plan to raise $14 million to build a 300-bed shelter near the new state facility.
Current and former Texan presidential candidates made news this week. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke dropped out of the race, leaving Julián Castro the only Texan contender. But, with continuing low poll numbers, Castro’s campaign is hoping to benefit from O’Rourke’s departure.
“It’s an uphill climb certainly for the former San Antonio mayor,” Platoff says.
Although Castro gained endorsements from Texas politicians previously on the O’Rourke side, Platoff says it is unclear if O’Rourke’s public following will transfer to Castro.
“We know that before O’Rourke dropped out of the race, [Castro] wasn’t pulling in too much support in the polls either,” Platoff says.
Written by Libby Cohen.