AUSTIN, Texas - Now that Austinites have voted to reinstate the homeless camping ban, the question remains—where will everyone currently living in those camps go? Austin City Council will address that question Thursday.
Voters approved Prop B on Saturday by a margin of 57% to 43%, banning camping in most of the city. But council member Kathie Tovo will introduce a resolution Thursday to allow certain designated camping areas on public land. It’s something Tovo had brought up back in 2019, right before the camping ban was initially lifted.
The resolution describes those campsites as temporary, though they would include security, lighting, restrooms and storage. However, the proposal does not stipulate where exactly those approved encampments would be; that will be up to City Manager Spencer Cronk.
If it’s approved by Council Thursday, the resolution directs Cronk to report back with possible locations by May 14. By June 1, he would be expected to come up with a schedule, estimated costs and community partners that the city would work with.
Also Thursday, Council is expected to approve $1.9 million for permanent supportive housing, and another $1.9 million for rapid rehousing services. There is also approximately $1.26 million on the table for non-congregate shelter space for homeless people at high risk for COVID-19 complications.
Austin City Council will also be calling an executive session Thursday to discuss legal issues surrounding the Northwest Austin hotel the city is buying to house people currently experiencing homelessness. That proposal has received pushback from residents in the Pecan Park neighborhood--and from officials in Williamson County, where the Candlewood Inn & Suites is technically located.
Council will also consider building so-called "tiny houses" on land that is either public or owned by willing community partners, to house people who are currently homeless. Cronk is supposed to report back on where those could potentially go by July 1.