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Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:48 am
Colleagues: We’re all going to want to be working together on homelessness so Council Members Tovo and Kitchen and I wanted to get something posted for us all to be able to work on if this is a forum on which you’d like to engage. This document, developed with the input of community members and our staff, is being sent to the participants in Wednesday’s DAA town hall.
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 084346.pdf
Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:01 pm
Thank you all for creating this document, and I appreciate how closely you worked with me to make sure it reflected our shared path forward to addressing the challenge of homelessness, with the goal of ending homelessness in Austin.
I support (and have supported) all of the past and new programs listed in the document. I am in alignment with the guiding principle listed here that: “Prohibiting camping, sitting, and lying, without providing people with a place to go, is a failed strategy. Moving people experiencing homelessness away from one public place only moves them to another public place. Nor is camping a solution to homelessness. We do not want any of our neighbors, especially our most vulnerable, to have to live with the public safety and health risks of life on the streets. We can and must do better for those experiencing homelessness, for our public spaces, and for our community as a whole.”
In June, I also voted for Item 184, which asked the City Manager and the community to consider more carefully tailored restrictions on camping than those that previously existed. I was interested then, and still remain open to, other reasonable and non-discriminatory restrictions. But they must reflect our values of protecting the public and its interests, whether a person is housed or not. For example, I take seriously the point I’ve heard that the number of people in front of the ARCH has deterred clients from participating in services there. Our current rules also require that camping not impede on the reasonable use of public space, and I hear and understand that this provision needs clarity.
I also generally agree with the statement that the best way to deter camping is to provide housing. Where my thoughts differ from those posted here, is that I believe we must provide housing and services not with an aim to prohibit camping, but rather with the aim of preventing camping by making camping obsolete and unnecessary. If we provide the right services and housing, there will be fewer people forced to live on the streets, regardless of the various restrictions on camping.
I think and hope that we’re headed in the same direction, but we must be very careful not to re-criminalize the mere status of homelessness, while continuing on the path of providing more housing and services. From reading this post and speaking with you, I also believe your goal is to not re-criminalize homelessness, but rather to solve the underlying issue, and take care of both our people and places.
Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:57 pm
Thank you for your comments and for your participation in putting these thoughts together.
I think we are all on the same page with both thoughts - that the best way to deter camping is to provide housing. AND with the value that we must prevent homelessness - we must provide housing and services with the aim of preventing camping by making camping obsolete and unnecessary.
City Council D5