Austin homeless population want new shelter
As UT students start a new semester, one problem around campus is still the same, the homeless population. It's an exciting time for the UT campus as classes start Wednesday. Tuesday night's celebration "Gone to Texas" is a 200 year old tradition, a way to welcome students home. But this has also become a home for the homeless.
Has the homeless population outgrown the ARCH downtown? It's now one reason why many are venturing to different parts of Austin.
"Mostly violence and gang-related. Like a couple of nights ago, there were about five fights out there," says Duncan, homeless.
Duncan and Justin say they don't want to be around that environment, especially when they are trying to get back on their feet.
"They see two people like us and they're like 'hey, they're up to no good. Let's go find out what they're doing and pull them over.' If we got warrants or anything, it messes us up because we're out here trying to get jobs and trying to do what we're supposed to do," says Duncan, homeless.
Pita Pit General Manager Devon Benedict knows there are homeless trying to do better for themselves. He also encounters many that cause problems for his business.
"A lot of threats happen, I've had to call the cops multiple times on them, as well as, vandalism to the back of my store. I've also had to call EMS on several of them before because they are inside the store and started to kind of act weird and seize out and all that crazy stuff," says Devon Benedict, general manager, Pita Pit.
We're told the biggest issue is there is a lot of drug use going on. Something that arrests by police, Benedict says, will not solve.
"Austin is a growing city right now and they are throwing up all these business buildings, they need to throw up something that is going to help the issue at hand. We're right across from UT, one of the more prestigious schools in Texas. I can't tell you how many times I've heard parents during orientation tell their kids 'we don't want you coming here with what's going on around here," says Benedict.
The homeless have even started going into surrounding apartments and dormitories to find a place to sleep.
Christian Dukes tells us what happened to his friend.
"She went to bed and they didn't lock the doors. She woke up to a homeless person in her room just watching her," says Christian Dukes, UT student.
Hanging around the UT campus might not be the best place for the homeless but they say they have no other place to go.
"It kind of scares the parents because they don't know how to view people who are not dressed properly or combed hair," says Justin, homeless.
They would like to see another shelter for them.