AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced that the Texas Department of Transportation will begin clearing homeless camps from underpasses as early as Monday, November 4.
Abbott had mentioned that TxDOT could possibly become involved in the homeless crisis that the City of Austin is facing in an open letter he had penned to Austin Mayor Steve Adler. In the letter, Governor Abbott wrote that the City of Austin has faced "substantial public health and safety problems that must be addressed by the City Council." He states that repealing the camping ban has brought forth "human feces, hypodermic needles, mounds of garbage, and people living in unsanitary and inhumane conditions that could lead to an outbreak of communicable diseases."
The governor had demanded the council address the growing homelessness crisis by November 1, 2019. If meaningful reforms were not implemented by then, Governor Abbott said he would 'direct every applicable state agency to act to fulfill his responsibility to protect the health and safety of Texans in Austin’s jurisdiction.'
The homeless crisis is a challenge the city has been battling since the council overturned laws allowing people to sit, camp and lie in public spaces. In June, Governor Abbott made his disapproval immediately known on Twitter, threatening to override the ordinances.
On Thursday, October 17, the Austin City Council passed a new proposal that bans camping on all city sidewalks or in wildfire risk areas.