AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Hundreds of people lined up outside the LBJ School Auditorium for a public forum on homelessness. An issue placed in the forefront of Austinites when the city council recinded ordinances allowing homeless people to camp in public spaces.
Instead of passing around a mic, people were asked to write their questions down on note cards. The panelists included Mayor Steve Adler, APD Chief Brian Manley, The Downtown Austin Alliance, Director of ECHO, Homes Not Handcuffs to name a few.
The panelists weren't allowed to give speeches and the crowd wasn't allowed to directly ask questions but listen which made members of the audience a bit restless. Each panelists agreed allowing people to camp anywhere is not a solution.
Safety was brought up multiple times during the forum, safety for residents, businesses and homeless people.
The moderator asked Chief Manley about the perception that homeless crime is up.
"We have no data to show that that violent crime has increased based on the changes in the ordinance I think what we all recognize here is, is it's much more visible," Manley said.
Questions from the public read about residential camping concerns and resources.
The panelists went on to discuss housing possibilities, tax dollars and steps needed to tackle the issue surrounding homelessness.
Overall no solutions or definitive next steps were announced. Mayor Adler discussed short term goals.
"It's going to be important for us to start identifying places where people cannot camp. because there are certain places that is just not safe," Adler said. "I am tired of spending millions of tax payer dollars to move people around our city and not really deal with the challenge that's what we have to be doing."
Adler said he hopes to see an action the council can take by mid-September and a memo with recommendations from the City Manager Friday.