City of Austin to move into Phase 4 of city-wide camping ban

This weekend, the City of Austin will move into the final phase of its city-wide camping ban. Phase 4 allows Austin Police to cite and arrest those in violation of the ban.

With less than a week to go before the city enters Phase 4, the Public Safety Commission sent a letter to city council recommending some changes to the plan.

"The Public Safety Commission recommends that the Austin Police Department cease citations and arrests unless the diversion is being offered to persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness include a housing option," said commission vice chair Nelly Paulina Ramirez.

During the Public Safety Commission's monthly meeting, board members say it does not feel right to punish the homeless when the city hasn't pinpointed viable options for them to go.

"They should just not be giving people tickets until the promise of another option exists," said board member Rebecca Bernhardt.

City leaders have named two possible sites that could be used as homeless encampments, but neither have been officially named. 

Save Austin Now co-founder Cleo Petricek agrees the city needs to take a quicker initiative to help the homeless. "No one should be okay with what we're seeing on our streets. If we truly care about our homeless community, we would not have subjected them for two years to these inhumane conditions," she said.

Assistant Chief Robin Henderson says APD has handed out 14 citations and made zero arrests in connection to the camping ban.

Phase 4 goes into effect August 8th.

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