City of Austin begins phase four of Prop B enforcement

The final phase of Prop B enforcement is now in full force. This means if an Austin police officer gives someone a ticket and the person still refuses to leave the area, they can be arrested. But some critics feel the city's approach right now is inadequate.

"I just don't believe that's going to happen because you have to have written citations to have full enforcement according to their enforcement plan," said Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of Save Austin Now.

Proposition B makes it a criminal offense to camp on sidewalks downtown, in any public area in the city, and also aggressively panhandle during specific hours. Proposition B enforcement is happening at the same time the city council's H.E.A.L. Initiative is ongoing, which targets large campsites and puts those people into housing.

"I’m pleased those 100 people are in safer places than they were but the other 97-99 percent of our homeless people in our city remain under bridges and unsafe places. Our city has done nothing, they have no plan," said Mackowiak.

"Now they are talking about spending $515 million over the next three years to house 3,000 people after they totally failed in spending $161 million the last three years with no transparency and accountability," said Mackowiak.

Council member Greg Casar disagrees with the approach of Prop B.

"If somebody gets taken to jail they are just in jail for a night and then they're back out and no better off. Prop B enforcement will just move people around. It’ll just move people from under one bridge to another," said Casar.

So far police officers have visited more than 600 people, issued 572 written warnings, and 24 tickets.

Homeless strategy officer Dianne Grey and Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon will be providing an update on the initiative on Aug. 10.

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