Essentially, these policies focus on the decriminalization aspect of homelessness: Local police and enforcement agencies are no longer empowered to clear streets and keep public areas free of the filth, debris, trash, drug paraphernalia, disease, rodents, and human waste created by masses of humanity.
But West Coast cities aren’t the only ones who have exacerbated the problem of homelessness in their communities. Now the liberal enclave of Austin in deep red Texas has joined the ranks of cities about to be overrun with filth and chaos.
As reported by CBS Austin last month, the city council adopted changes to existing ordinances that criminalized panhandling and ‘public camping.’ Specifically:
Overnight, the Austin City Council voted to approve changes to soliciting, camping, sitting, or lying down laws.
That means Austin Police will only be allowed to ticket or arrest a person who is soliciting, camping, sitting, or lying in a public space if they are a public health or safety hazard or blocking a walkway.
“It’s time to decriminalize homelessness in Austin,” said Holly Kirby with the Left-wing group Grassroots Leadership. (Related: Wow: Progressives in Seattle may back conservative who wants to stop doubling down on idiotic homeless policies.)
The change has upset Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and many Republicans, with the governor vowing to overturn the city’s new changes with a state law that overrides them.
“If Austin — or any other Texas city — permits camping on city streets it will be yet another local ordinance the State of Texas will override,” the governor posted on Twitter, according to the Austin Statesman. “At some point cities must start putting public safety & common sense first. There are far better solutions for the homeless & citizens.”
He’s not alone. Austin residents are also rising up as well and pushing back against the new law.
As NBC affiliate KXAN reported, some fear the changes will embolden homeless people, leading to more aggressive encounters and criminal activity.
“It is scary to be a woman at times on the street by yourself. We were chased. It’s not pleasant to be so frightened,” one woman who lives downtown told the city council recently, the station reported.
City residents are taking to social media to post pictures of camps, homeless squatting, and even fires underneath roadways and interstates:
The news site reported further:
The camps and lawlessness are becoming a visible part of the Austin landscape all over the city. Austinites are posting photos on Twitter to alert Mayor Steve Adler — and the media, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and each other — as they see new camps or campers.
One user — AnnsKitchen_ATX — has been actively posting example after example of how the homeless problem is exploding in Austin. The user name is a spoof on the name of Austin City Councilwoman Ann Kitchen, who voted with Adler and the others to enable homeless camping in public spaces throughout the city — except, of course, City Hall and public parks.
One user, in response to a tweet from Gov. Abbott about how Texas has become the country’s No. 1 state for business startups, wrote, “Who would want to start a business in Austin TX? Homeless drug users camping on the street. Guess that’s what the mayor and council wants.”
Homeless encampments are literally popping up everywhere:
Some have made a plea directly to the governor for help:
Adler said he didn’t think the changes in the ordinance would lead to an explosion of homeless encampments.