AUSTIN, Texas - Austin Mayor Steve Adler says he doesn’t see a letter from Governor Greg Abbott's office as a threat but instead welcomes the state assistance.
Gov. Abbott is demanding the city of Austin, "fix its homeless crisis" or the state will intervene. The governor sent a letter to Mayor Adler with a November 1st deadline to change its homeless ordinances.
"If Austin does not fix its homeless crisis by November 1st, I will unleash the full authority of every state agency," Governor Abbott said. "Some businesses are struggling to keep sidewalks clear some homeowners feel threatened. Some homeless are interfering with sidewalks, with streets and with rights of way. Feces and used needles are accumulating at alarming rates.”
The letter detailed stated if the Austin City Council doesn't act soon he is left with no choice but to use tools available by the state of Texas to ensure public health and safety. Agencies such as the Department of State Health Services, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Abbott said DPS can also add troopers in Austin areas that pose greater threats.
Mayor Adler said DPS enforcement won't be necessary and is working with the police department to ensure safety, welcoming any assistance the state can provide.
"This is a community right now locked on the goal of ending homelessness it would be easier it would happen more rapidly if we have the state's support,” Mayor Adler said. "Some see this letter as a threat I want you to know, I understand the seriousness of this letter but I choose to read this letter as an offer of assistance and this is not a city challenge it is a statewide challenge,”
It’s a challenge the city has been battling since the council overturned laws allowing people to sit, camp and lie in public spaces. In June, the Governor made his disapproval immediately known on Twitter, threatening to override the ordinances.
Abbott has since posted on Twitter, inviting the public to post their own examples of “reasons for action to end the homelessness crisis caused by Austin policies.”
Mayor Adler said city staff will have weekly meetings to discuss the issue. He expects the Governor to see action taken as early as next week.