Gov. Abbott working to override Austin homeless camping ordinance

With less than a year away, Gov. Greg Abbott revealed one of his priorities for the next legislative session: homelessness.

The governor's office confirmed that a statewide solution is in the works.

While talking about Austin's homeless issues Wednesday, Abbott said on Twitter, "Next step should be to reinstate the ban on camping and work with non-profit organizations to assist with shelters. That's exactly what I will ask the Texas Legislature to do."

This comes after Austin City Council legalized camping in public back in June. Then in October, they put back in place some camping, sitting and lying restrictions.

Groups like Homes Not Handcuffs who pushed to get the homeless ban lifted say going back to criminalizing the homeless won't solve the problem.

"Can hurt trying to find a job, can hurt trying to find housing as well, having an arrest on one's record or a ticket received for violation from one of these ordinances can prevent people from getting into housing," organizer Heidi Sloan said.

Those with Homes Not Handcuffs say even making more shelters won't solve the issue unless they connect people to something permanent.

"The issue is that you have people unfortunately becoming homeless every day," organizer Chris Harris said. "We need to be moving people who are currently homeless into housing or else we end up with more and more people experiencing homelessness."

Now, the governor's office says it will flesh out the details over the next few months and that it would be a statewide solution.

While homeless advocates are not sure what the governor will do, Homes Not Handcuffs says it's about time the state gets involved in the issue.

"Homelessness is an issue that desires more state attention," Harris said. "In some ways, I'm glad that it is now a focus for folks as it is something that needs solving but obviously we need to do it in a way that actually solves it in a long term way."

Mayor Steve Adler released a statement in response to Abbott's tweet:

The next legislative session is set to begin in January 2021.