Austin hair salon could shut down due to neighboring homeless camp

An Austin hair salon could shut down because of a neighboring homeless camp.

Owners of Headspace Salon say homeless living at the large camp have threatened their employees and clients for months. They also said they have seen an uptick in vandalism and other criminal activity.

The owners said they have reached out to Austin police and city officials for help, but have not seen any results.

A recent incident caught on camera shows a man outside Headspace Salon in South Austin ripping out a pole from the ground and move toward the business with it in hand. 

Co-owner of the salon Laura North says multiple employees and clients were inside the salon at the time.

"That was probably one of the scariest incidents," said North.

North admits situations like that have become the unfortunate norm, but this specific encounter was the salon’s breaking point.

"I was scared for my employees. I was scared for the clients. We really felt like, at that point, our lives were threatened and something really bad was going to happen," she said

North says they do not feel safe anymore, and she believes it all ties back to the large homeless encampment located only feet away from the salon.

"Our safety started to become a big issue. We suffered from multiple break-ins. We've had our cars broken into. We clean up feces and needles on a weekly basis. It increased from that to, you know, people approaching us and threatening us with weapons, threatening rape, murder, all of those things," said North.

The salon has been up and running just off Ben White Blvd. for four years now. North says she has seen an uptick in crime for a while now, but the dangerous behavior from people living in this encampment picked up recently.

"In the past year, it's gotten increasingly worse and, in the past couple of weeks, it's gotten to the point where I actually finally felt like this might shut my business down," said North.

Erin Mutschler, another co-owner of the salon, says they have called the police every time they have dealt with a situation like the one caught on video, but she says police often take 45 minutes to an hour for anyone to show up.

"Especially as a woman, I feel like when you're calling, you know, you don't call because you don't mean it when you are calling. You're calling because you need help in that moment and when you're being told, ‘I'm sorry, they're getting there as fast as they can, and I need to get off the phone with you’, it leaves you feeling so helpless," she said.

These salon owners also say they have reached out to city officials, as well. They hope sharing their story will lead to some sort of change.

"I think we just got to a point where we have to kind of be our own advocates and speak to the public, so people can really understand what we're dealing with here," said North.

FOX 7 reached out to Austin police for a statement. An APD spokesperson sent a statement regarding the incident caught on cell phone video:

"APD officers responded to a Trespass Urgent call at 4418 Pack Saddle Pass. The call came in at approximately 5:17 p.m. on January 19, 2023. A Criminal Trespass Notice was issued for that incident and the investigation is still ongoing."